As I sat down and pondered my many blessings on my birthday –which also falls on Mother’s Day –I thought I’d share my reflections in the form of a birthday/Mother’s Day playlist.
I would not be where I am today without the unconditional love and support of my mother, May Lum. She sacrificed everything for my brother and I, and has always provided everything we needed. She Raised Me Up (Josh Groban) to be all that I could be. She had so many hopes and dreams for us, and I know that I work everyday to live up to those hopes and more. I try to be as generous, kind and loving as she is everyday hoping I can be half the woman she is one day. Whenever I hear Lee Ann Womack’s, I Hope You Dance I feel the hopes, dreams, and happiness that I always felt from my mom.
For those who know me, or perhaps read some of my earlier blogs –they know my dedication to teaching and research comes from a desire to recuperate the lost stories of my grandparents. I wonder how my grandmother survived the long absences of my grandfather when he left China to work in the fields of California. I wonder if she was scared escaping the communist takeover. I find myself Wanting Memories (Sweet Honey and the Rock).
I am very blessed to have a bonus family –the Purcells. When I think of the Purcell’s I think of love, laughter, fun, and light. Anne Purcell is the most amazing step-mother –she always gives so much to my brother and I. She’s such an amazing role model who taught me early on, when she studied to become a nurse, that if you set your mind and heart on a goal you achieve it. She reminded me that Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (Marvin Gaye & Tami Terrel) She was and always is there with love and encouragement. I am so grateful and blessed.
Not a day goes by, that I don’t remember Dorothy Purcell –my bonus grandmother. When I think of her, which is quite often, I always smile. Her presence was always so reassuring and calming. Her happiness was always contagious. I hear Bill Wither’s, Lovely Day and it reminds me of Aunt Dorothy –and how she could make any day brighter and better.
Of course, where would we be without the other mom’s in our lives. The ones that nurture and care for us. My brother and I were lucky enough to have Jeannie who was there for us through it all. Despite suffering through tantrums, kicked shins and mischievous kids who put out/doused/and sabotaged her cigarettes so that she’d quit. I don’t know how you put up with us Jeannie –but so many of us wouldn’t be where we are today without you. Thank you for loving us as much as you love Elvis, even when we were Too Much.
I am so inspired by the friends around me that are such strong role models to their kids. When I hear This One’s For the Girls, I’m reminded of how much we’ve grown. Not so long ago we were trying to figure out who we are –now you’re bringing up little girls and boys. Your strength amazes me. You are Superwomen (Alicia Keys) to me.
Earlier this evening, I was reminded that in the US, Mother’s Day was originated in 1870 by Julia Ward Howe –the author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. She was so upset by the number of deaths resulting from the Civil War that she had to “protest what she saw as the futility of their Sons killing the Sons of other Mothers.”[i]
In her proclamation she called for peace and an end to war. She wrote,
““We women of one country
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”
From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says, “Disarm, Disarm!”
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice!
Blood does not wipe out dishonor
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have of ten forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war.
Let women now leave all that may be left of home.
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,” (ibid)
So my birthday wish is peace, and it stems from the spirit of motherhood that has shaped and influenced me . I want the children of my friends, and the communities that are instrumental in all of our lives, and my 2 year old god-daughter to trust that we can built a better world. Let’s hope that we can do more than Imagine (John Lennon) that future.