So as it is Sunday, and I would like to think that my thinking is clearer on an alleged day of rest, I went into the editorial section of The New York Times, and read their opinion section. There was an article by Katie Roiphe, one of the brighter people around-- about farewell thoughts from smarties who mostly don't get a chance to deliver one. And probing what is left peaceful in my innards, I recollected the last communication I got from Mom, who, as friends know, was hardly one of those. A tough, angry woman, she was probably borderline brilliant. But having been raised to believe that men were better, she subverted herself and what there probably was of gifted intellect, devoting herself to capturing someone exceptional, not understanding that had she maximized her own capacity for excellence, she might not have been so frustrated, and so might have been less angry, less destructive, and so maybe not so crazy.
I have written about her, in the days when my writing was really good, something I can say shamelessly as I don't think I am any longer that person, having lived through several incarnations, a lot of loss, hopefully some growth and spiritual transformation-- that is to say: I hope that the dreams we are sold and sell ourselves have some substance, and there is an invisible guidance behind or above it all. I don't think there was ever a better character than my mother this side of the Brontes, only funny.
As I said, I don't feel vain or self-serving anymore because I couldn't do it now, the author of all that is sort of dead, as I have outlived her and have been gifted with a sort of Afterlife. Only today, reading that editorial in The New York Times, which still seems the smartest of all newspapers, though I read the Wall St. Journal to seem fair at least to myself, I realized that I have probably been blessed, if there is any reality to spiritual hopes and longings, with having been given time and opportunity to create, although not granted the serious attention given to... say, Phillip Roth, a great wordsmith but someone totally lacking a soft underbelly, which I really believe you need to have in order to feel completely. Had he only come equipped with a heart as great as his brain and penis, he might have been It.
But for all Helen's cruelty, not invented but observed, the second child driven mad, Jessica, the complex and gifted husband driven away, Puggy, she had an undeniable ability to see and put into words, at least those I can remember. When she came to the end of her life, she sent me a note through whatever service was available wherever I was. "Don't be happy," she wrote, "and don't be sad. Just understand that Life goes on, and we all do the best we can."
That does, somehow, say it all. So even as I worry about what will become of our world with the lunatics who have their fingers on not just the triggers, but the hopes and dreams and furies and stupidities, I am grateful for the run I have had, the places I have been, the people I have known, the dances I have done and am still sort of doing. If that sounds as though I am resigned, it's probably because I am not anywhere I can make a difference. Or not be concerned about Donald Trump.