It Comes in Threes

This text is dedicated to my mother and all mothers, natural and otherwise, with a special shout out to the daughters: Lisa and Sandy, Deirdre, Danielle and Kimberly. Ladies, thank you for sharing a piece of your hearts.

It’s only a myth that bad things come in threes right? Events of this year have really started to make a believer out of me. Over the last few months, three of my female friends have been confronted by the heartbreaking death of their mothers. These deaths strangely all happened within three weeks of one another too. Due to the regularity and the numbers, my partner reminded me that we are now men of a certain age when loss will again play its hand in our lives. The last time was in the 80s and 90s when we said goodbye to many of our male friends and lovers from a then mysterious and deadly virus.

I was fortunate to have met these mothers at various times during the friendship with their daughters. The first mother I met only briefly at her daughter’s wedding now almost 13 years ago. The second rewarded my partner and me with a gift of cookies from a secret recipe, as thanks for helping her embarrassingly distraught daughter with her exterior home paint colors. The third relationship goes back to a time when I was a young, clumsy, and awkward teen being introduced for the first time by the eldest of two daughters. The oldest was also classmate and childhood sweetheart. The younger sibling still remains a dear friend today who I love as a sister. The above mentioned matriarchs have produced amazingly wonderful and loving offspring; each one compassionate, talented, and philanthropic in their own way.

I feel very blessed that my mother still remains a part in my life. Though we don’t see each other as frequently as she would like, as a good son (at least I think so) I call her weekly to check in. Time thunderously marches on in our lives and she won’t always be there to tell me everything will be alright. This is something, my sisters and I, often forget about. Growing up, our mother was definitely no Wonder Woman with her golden lasso of truth. In contrast, our mother had the “switch of discipline” or the “belt of defiance.” Believe it or not, I was usually on the receiving end! Before anyone passes judgment on my mother, keep in mind this chapter occurred a very long time ago and was a regular part of the environment in which my mother grew up. Nowadays, anytime we adult kids appear to “get too big for our britches”, my mother threatens to throw us over her knee. That image alone makes me laugh! Her spirituality, love, and wisdom have been a source of comfort for me and my sisters; thank you Ma!

Regardless of the timing or the cause, death is never an easy experience to process.

We all are the product of a mother’s love. Happy Mother’s Day!

A Mother’s Love

A breath of life and the bond created;

This is a mother’s love.

Soft caresses and tears wiped;

This is a mother’s love.

A void of hunger and an appetite suppressed;

This is a mother’s love.

A voice of hope and confidence learned;

This is a mother’s love.

Memories shared and experience gained;

For this is a mother’s gift.

This is a previously published piece from 2017.

Heartache, Heartbreak, and Healing

This is a red drawn heart border in black that is torn 3/4 through the middle and has an adhesive bandage diagonally in the middle.
Assembly definitely required

I hate my heart. Not the physical blood-surging-life-giving muscle we all need to efficiently function, but the symbolic love-giving vessel that connects with our brains.

To my surprise, I have grown into a sensitive flower. When I open my heart to allow people in, they don’t realize how fragile it is. As we age, you would think that our mature hearts would become more rigid and be able to withstand the pain and shock of deception, betrayal, and abandonment. For me, that’s just not the case. In fact as I’ve aged, my heart has made me more emotionally susceptible to the world around me. Those sappy teary-eyed love songs and advertising jingles even pull on my heartstrings. I won’t say that I have a problem, but when a certain television commercial airs that encourages the liberation of Fluffy and Fido from captivity, I quickly change channel to avoid feeling that emotional tug on my heart and financial tug on my wallet.

In our youth, we lack the experience and comprehension to truly understand our emotions. Even in our adulthood, as we learn to love, we truly don’t understand the depth of our feelings. As a young teen living in Hawaii, I didn’t allow anyone to really get to know me because I was afraid of getting hurt. So I played a tough guy on the outside to keep the bullies at bay. Ironically, this is what made me a target. Kids would intentionally do things to prompt me into action. I found myself involved in fights at school for the smallest of offenses. For example, as we cued up for lunch in the cafeteria and if someone pushed me from behind, I would immediately turn around and slug who I believed was the jerk who initiated that pushing; whether the act was one of intention or accident. Luckily, I grew out of that phase and blossomed into the kind-hearted and loving person I am today…provided that I’m well fed!

I am truly a people person. Eric, my partner jokingly and affectionately calls me a social whore! About two years ago I befriended a young man of color who was new to the area. I was excited to have the opportunity of showing him around town. We clicked and became instant friends. I introduced him to Eric and our extended friendship circle (the Posse). Living here in the Great “White” Pacific Northwest can be a challenge when there aren’t a lot of faces that look like your own. Portland, Oregon may be known worldwide for its food scene, but its lack of diversity also gets its share of press. In a 2017 article in the Oregonian, Blacks represented 2.8 percent of 2.4 million people living in the seven-county metro region. Many POC (people of color) arriving to the city have regularly expressed feeling unwelcome and leave shortly after their arrival. I didn’t want this to happen with my new friend. My partner and I opened our home to him for holidays and birthday celebrations. We learned that our friend was also an only child, and that his mother died from a heart attack during his young adulthood; she was the anchor of the home and did everything for him (including cleaning his room). The father, we were told, was often away from home on business leaving mother and son to fill the void with distractions from his absence.

So not so long ago, this friend became distant and wouldn’t respond to invites and text messages. When there was a text exchange, it was usually a random response that never addressed the previous inquiry. I tried to find out what was going on him, but those lips remained tightly shut. At social events where he and I would be present, the avoidance was blatant and intentional, even catching the attention of mutual acquaintances. I had so many questions: Why was I being ghosted? or Was he jealous? Does this explain the “dissed”-connect my partner and I experienced with our friendship? Not likely. My heart ached from the not knowing, but I had to accept that fact that the fun and laughs of this friendship was now over.

I’ve since reached out to this friend but there was no response. I am at peace.

This feeling isn’t unique only to friendships, but family can also contribute and even sustain the effects of a broken heart. You see with family, there is life history; the good, the bad, and the ugly. A history sometimes filled with acts of blame, half-truths, and denial of any personal responsibility that prevents the heart from healing. This leaves all family members feeling exhausted, cautious about moving forward for fear of reopening old wounds. This too causes me heartache. There’s no real cure for this affliction other than a continued effort to move forward. I think it was Rose Kennedy who said that time heals all wounds? It’s hard (for me) to let go when there has been an investment in any relationship.

I blame my mother for my over sensitivity issues.  Not my biological mother, though there may be some connection there too. I really blame Mother Nature. Apparently as men age, we can become more sensitive. I think that it has something to do with men’s bodies producing more estrogen and less testosterone as we get… dare I say it …older (gasp). All I can say is, I pray my pectorals aka “chesticals” remain perky throughout my state of maturity and don’t morph into “moobs” (man boobs). I plan on doing what I can to remain a mantique (older man, slightly banged up but still retains his value and charm)!

Well, for better or worse, through heartache and heartbreak, I will persevere! I just have to think twice about any new friendships and question those existing relationships when they become an emotional vortex! Hating my heart is really a pretty harsh statement, but when compassion and forgiveness are involved, the heart will definitely suffer from its share of bruising.