With February comes Valentine’s Day, giving a scripted moment to think of the ones we love or miss. A meadow of complex emotions blooms, around that scheduled day of love. Beyond the calendar’s confines, in truth, every day of every season is the time of love, filled with love’s preciousness and perils. In times of wild challenge such as these, love is ever more the center.
What’s the center within that center, more than the love between mother and child? As this Valentine’s Day rises above the horizon, I’m thinking of my mother with love and gratitude beyond measure. Let her be my Valentine this year. I’ve been blessed to have almost fifty-eight years on this earth together so far, during which we’ve shared a remarkable amount of beautiful time. We’ve shared a love of hiking in nature, of creativity, of open-minded curiosity for all the people we’ve met, for a plethora of diverse experiences in the world. Most of all, we’ve shared a peaceful supportive love that has never waned or failed. In the entirety of my lifetime, I cannot remember a single instance in which I needed her to be there for me, when she wasn’t—a dedication I seek to return. She’s always supported my wild ways in the world, as I’ve walked off from the safest paths into the creative adventure of the unknown, exploring the endless ways to be truly alive. Without her love, support and assistance, I would never have walked this eclectic life for which I’m so grateful. I celebrate this life each and every day, no matter its difficulties; and I celebrate and never take for granted these moments I have with her.
You’d love my mother too. She’s one of the kindest, most open-minded people I’ve known, never judgmental, always curious. She loves life, even at ninety. Across the course of her years, she has explored so many paths few would dare. She learned to fly before she learned to drive, back in the 1940s when such things were uncommon for women. She won the Powder Puff Derby—the national women’s air race—in 1952. She taught flying for many years as well, a time during which she also attained a master’s degree in art. After working in many artistic media from silk screen to leather to stained glass, she settled into watercolor and became very accomplished in that realm. At age 51, she left flying behind to move to the Oregon backwoods to be a pioneer in an alternative, environmentally-based community. Along with a Quaker couple from Maine, she built a log house duplex with her own hands, learning how as she went. It was four years without electricity, before it was finished. (I spent college summers helping build, including hauling water the first year, when we didn’t have a functioning well yet. I have returned to live next to her in that forest duplex now.) In her seventies, she and a friend taught themselves Photoshop, entering the digital world of creative arts. She’s continued to explore and embrace the world, and I managed to arrange for her to return to the air and co-pilot a friend’s 1929 Fleet bi-plane on her 88th and 89th birthdays.
The preciousness of time together is ever apparent—for each of us, with everyone we love. And if it takes an artificially placed moment on a calendar to make us pause again, to remember and express our love, so be it. We must never take each other for granted. We must cherish each other as much as we cherish our parents and our children. We must celebrate all we are in our imperfect glory, where we stand at the loving center of this precious moment again.