Welcome to my page. For the past year and a half I have been putting together a collection of essays about my mother’s life, and about the connection between us as mother and daughter. You may wonder who my mother is, and what is so extraordinary about her life that it should be chronicled.
Synopsis: A Girl From The Hill: My Mother’s Journey from Italian Girl to American Woman
My mother is the closest thing to God I know. Her God Concept, whether she knows it or not, is that she cannot be fully known by just one name- or one single entity. Not Dahlia, Zalia, Zat, Dale, Mrs. Testa, Gale, Ma, Grammy, Mimi- but someone other, someone who serves as many beings to many people, allowing all to see those parts of her in ways that we can best appreciate and understand.
After decades of indifference, self-indulgence, rebelliousness, embarrassment, and plain old apathy, I can finally say I truly appreciate my mother and her many pseudonyms. But I’ve never been able to understand her as well as a daughter should. That’s why I’ve put these stories together. She deserves understanding, to have her stories and memories chronicled. I hope I do them justice.
Sitting with her for the first time to formally listen to her stories and recollections, I entered with obvious and unimaginative pre-conceptions. After hearing many of these tales before over time – whether reminiscing whimsically about the good old days, or comparing notes with her brothers and sisters when they were alive – I didn’t expect to be shocked or unprepared. This will be easy- how deep could she be, really? I was so wrong.
When I compare her life in the early Twentieth Century to mine now in the Twenty-First, so many things are different. But one thing remains the same- becoming a woman in any age challenges us to either stand up or sit down, to be heard or be stifled. My mother did both, by choice sometimes, but other times because “That’s the way it was.” I am so fortunate to become a wife and mother in this age versus hers. The path to find your identity is rarely easy, and I am grateful to have her lessons to guide me, even now as I sit at the top of the fence, or the hill, unwilling as any woman to climb over to the other side.
My mother’s words are simple; at times I have tried to improve them with more ‘colorful’ language, more complex descriptions. But I stopped myself more often than not, because reading her words over and over, trying to improve them, I found it difficult to better describe the transformation of this skinny little olive-skinned girl with the big dark eyes and the long dark hair -a little girl who adored her family and found solace and comfort in a sprawling Victorian home– not a house- a home- decorated with carefully selected treasures that served as her source of stability, refuge, and belonging. Her universe changed suddenly – losing many of the people and things she treasured, and finding herself thrown into a world where she was no longer the youngest of eight, the delicate flower. As she morphed from Dahlia to Zat, to Dale, Mommy and Grammy, she came dangerously close to losing herself. That’s when the delicate flower finally stood up and strengthened to become the tough old Crow I love and that amazes me more each day.
She keeps the memories of warm mahoganies and lace curtains, and little crevices where a little girl can hide and read her books and pretend in her mind. I’m grateful she has shared them with me, and can’t help but grin like a Cheshire cat watching her bask in that sweet glow of happiness. I have memories too- of a mother I could always cuddle with, a lap that would always take me and rock me gently out of whatever drama I conjured. And as my daughter snuggles with me after a long day at school or an intense game of basketball I hope I can provide her as much comfort as my mother did, along with the ability to let her go and find her own definition of womanhood.
- Dahlia’s galore (haltonhillscameraclub.wordpress.com)
- Evil Eyes Part I (pattytmitchell.com)
- 10 Common New Mother Fears – How to be a good parent without the anxiety (babble.com)
- Iron Balls (pattytmitchell.com)
- My Mother, Myself: How having a baby made me appreciate my mom. | Babble (babble.com)