It’s funny how language conjures emotions quite unexpectedly. I say “mummy,” and my eyes swell with tears, and yet “mom,” “mother,” sit in chambers of detachment, leaving me quite prepared to deal with loss.
August, 13, 2018 10:45 am mom passed. She had been ill for quite some time, and I’d hoped for her suffering to end sooner rather than later. Ratiocinated comportment never prepares you for loss, however. One simply learns to live with it.
Mom had her demons, and not always the easiest life. She did, however, teach my brother and I compassion, especially for the “underdog.” She was an exceptionally beautiful woman – turquoise eyes, deep black hair, and a figure to die for (she was often confused for Elizabeth Taylor, in fact). Strangely, she never owned it. Like most things mom had an air of confidence somehow intermingled with a palpable sense of self-doubt. She was the greatest mom for a teen, for though she had a rather parochial and conservative upbringing, she pushed the envelope and was …well, counter-cultural!!!! She was especially sensitive to the plight of women and the first to introduce me to Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex. My mom, as most women in Greece of her generation, didn’t finish high school, so I was especially proud when she returned to university to complete her Bachelor’s in Music at Concordia Univeristy and her MA in teaching at McGill University. Later we’d relocate to Greece where she opened her own Music School and later acquired her certification in Music Therapy. She volunteered for decades at the Dafni Psychiatric ward in Athens and worked with addicts, and Down’s children whose lives were significantly altered. I’d, in fact, witnessed the results of a number of so-called “lost cases” she treated privately over many years, and again, I was left in a state of awe. She had an uncanny way of being able to enter the psychic world of intra-personal anguish and translate that musically. It was remarkable to witness.
My best memories are of mom with a guitar in her hands, and me sitting on the floor in front of her, listening and singing along. She’d teach me to sing the second voice to a song, and we’d practice, joyously, hours at a time. Often the convo turned cerebral and mom would play a classical piece, or one of her own, and she’d ask me to affix a narrative that matched the mood. We’d analyze the meaning and consider the human condition through music. It was a wonderful introspective exercise that brought us close.