My mother’s high spirited voice is always in my head… “Rules are made to be broken!” / “Let’s do it.” / “Who would know?”/ “Why not?” That is my mother’s voice. But there is another voice that surfaces from the history of my life in times when a high spirited voice does not suit the situation.
Out of the blue...a voice with a British accent whispers in my conscious—clipped, hard and full of clear directives. This happens whenever I am feeling too self-indulgent or too lazy or too fearful—I hear Ms. Filmmaker’s mom. It is her voice that pulls me out of the morass of indecision, of languid contemplation, of paralyzing apprehension.
Ms. Filmmaker’s mom is a woman who survived WWII in England as a child and told us all her horror stories—no candy, no gym suits (they had to wear just their underwear in gym) no fruit, jelly with fake wood seeds to mimic raspberry jelly. She decided not to get married, but instead travel to India to work as a physical therapist for the poor where she actually massaged amputees’ stumps.
Ms. Filmmaker and I were mesmerized by these horror stories of a childhood during wartime and of the exotic and repulsive acts of bravery in India. She was a formidable mother. For the first few years of my friendship with Ms. Filmmaker—I was terrified by her mom. It was not until 3rd or 4th grade did I realize she was not mean, just English.
And like all English—She was a good time and adaptable to any situation. We were hiking through the woods one day with Ms. Filmmaker’s mom when we were about 10 years old--we came across a young couple copulating right in the middle of the trail. Ms. Filmmaker and I stood, like statues, with our mouths wide open taking in the event until her mother said, like a British general,—“come along girls—let’s take a LESS scenic route” and promptly cut a wide trail around the amorous couple.
The woman would bluntly answer any question regardless of topic—hence Ms. Filmmaker and I were able to find out in clear illuminating detail …first how babies were made and, later… in our early teen years, how babies were prevented. Oblivious to potential psychological damage she might be inflicting even questions that were not really meant to be answered honestly were…“Of course you two are fat—you eat like horses and act like sloths. Stop reading those stupid teen magazines and get outside” said the English mom
I can hear both voices of both moms become my own voice with my daughter.
My daughter too will have many mom voices to hear as she grows up—Ms. Filmmaker, Ms. Churchlady, Ms PR… and I hope the chorus of voices full of high-spirits, thoughtfulness and spin will follow her and help her on her way through life.