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Note: Originally posted on the EAGLE online community site, behind IBM's firewall on 14 May 2002, at 6: 52 am, and posted here on 24 May 2007:
I started this on Mother's Day weekend and it's dedicated to all who were missing a parent on Mother's Day:
Pat and I woke up on Saturday morning to a Lullabyes feature on National Public Radio, in honor of Mother's Day. I lay there, singing in my head the one that my father always sang to us; my mom didn't sing lullabyes.
My dad would sing in Yiddish, "Shlof mein kind. Mach deine aygalach, lulilulilu; shlof mein kind und troim fun faygelach, lulilulilu."/"Sleep my child. Close your eyes, lulilulilu. Sleep my child and dream of little birds, lulilulilu."
Later in the morning, we caught up on some of our videos, including the most recent episode of "ER," which centers on Dr. Mark Green's last days before dying. Two parts of it made me cry: when he's teaching his daughter to drive and when he shows his happiness that she's finding romance with a boy she met during their Hawaiian vacation.
My dad died when I was 17, the November prior to my graduation from high school, so the last rite of passage we shared was his teaching me to drive. And he was also particularly encouraging of the romance I was doggedly developing with a male high school classmate and unaware of the other romance that I was developing in parallel with a girl I met the summer before, as he lay dying in Columbia-Presbyterian in NYC.
I think about it being Mother's Day, and about the work my parents did as parents, and about my mother, sisters and I losing my father so early, and I am sad.
And I think of my not yet being pregnant -- I know, I know, I've barely begun trying, but I ache to be a mother, particularly since September 11th. I wrote in the EAGLE database that day about how comforting it was to be with my mother, but I also recall feeling sad that our house was empty when I got home the next morning; Pat was still at work and I had no one to care for then, since we don't yet have a child.
Parenting is profound. I used to want to be taken care of above all and now, I find myself craving a next generation that needs my care. It's not rational. And for me, it's no longer enough to say that I can help my niece and nephews, or that I can volunteer to help GLBTQ youth, like I did in my early twenties. I want a child of our own to parent with Pat. I was thinking that we'll have a double Mothers Day always, and then always be doubly sad on Fathers Day, since neither of us has our father and neither will our child have a father s/he can celebrate.
I dropped Pat at the Newark airport on Saturday afternoon, so she could fly out to the Mayo Clinic to support her friend who's getting tests there, and felt as lonely as I expected to, driving home. I needed some groceries and an excuse not to go right home to our empty house. Standing in the cheese section, I looked at Explorateur from France, remembering my parents talking about how tasty it was, and so I put it in my cart.
Just then, a man asked me to turn around: "May I see the front of your sweatshirt?" On the back, was the back of a cartoon bull terrier dog, by the "New Yorker" cartoonist, George Booth. On the front was the front of the bull terrier.
"I used to go to school with George Booth. He was something else."
"How neat. Where was that?"
"At The School of the Visual Arts [in New York City], in the early Fifties."
"My dad was at RISD [Rhode Island School of Design] in the late Forties. He introduced me to the cartoons of George Booth. We loved his cartoons. Our favorite one was of a deranged, but happy-looking woman, standing next to one of these signature dogs of his and the caption read, 'I feel idiotically happy today.'"
"Yeah, that sounds like him."
"Once in class, George was wearing this square, plaid tie and he rested it on a sheet of paper on his desk and extended it with watercolors."
"That's great and reminds me of how my father drew a naked woman on his bedroom wall as a teenager and when his mother saw it, she said, 'Chaim, at least put a bathing suit on her.'"
"I would have used push-pins, so I could have removed the bathing suit whenever she left the room."
I laughed and said, "I'm honored to meet you. I'm so glad you came up to me. You reminded me of my dad, who I lost when I was young."
"Haven't we all lost people?" he asked.