Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

December 23, 2007

Linda, Where the heck are you?
Are you ok?
Hope to see you soon.

I received this voicemail message while I was riding on the bus from O'Hare airport to Rockford. I had had nothing but trouble with the travel home that year, and I was late in arriving. But I got there soon after the message, and all was well. That was the last voicemail message I received from Mom, Irene. She died February 2, 2008.

(Christmas 2007 with our wonderful friend Betty. The last picture on my camera of Mom.)

I kept the message for years, but this time, when I got a new phone, all my archived messages disappeared. I suppose it's all right. I certainly remember her voice, and obviously I recall every word of the message. I also kind of think that Mom does not want to see me soon according to earth time because if that were to happen, it would mean I would have joined her on the other side.

Of course, I have no idea what's on the other side. Maybe Mom is sitting right here with me as I write this, so that "missing her" is meaningless. I'm guessing that the thing we think of as "time" just isn't the same at all. I'll find out for myself soon enough, but there seems to be no need to rush this.

Of course I miss her.... a lot...and often. I know I can't write a whole lot about her because even thinking about her makes me cry.

I'm 60 now. What was I doing when she was 60? In 1987 I was in living in Denver, having just moved in 1986. I was doing my second & third semester of my combined midwifery PhD education program. I went home to see her sometime during that summer and at Christmas. We talked on the phone every so often. Dad was still alive too. I'm not sure which dog they had together then. Was it already Hank?

So happy mother's day today to all my friends who are mothers and all my friends who still have mothers living her with us. And I feel for all my friends whose moms have also passed, recently or long ago. It's hard, sometimes, to be an orphan.

(Never refuse to have your picture taken by anybody no matter what you think of your own appearance. You never know that it won't be one of the last ones and that it will become precious to someone before too long.)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Taiko Drumming

How did this happen? I'm a member of a taiko drumming group. I have now performed three times. I can do three songs pretty well and two songs okay. I'm always in the back row so the audience doesn't see me all that much, and I can make mistakes and not beat myself up over it. The thing is, I WANT to perform now. And I want to improve and be near as good as the other members of the group. We started learning a new song on Friday which is done fast and furious. I'm in heaven.

When I started going to the lessons, I found them to be fun and interesting, but I was happy with the lessons only. I have never done anything like this before, and it was amazing to me that I was actually capable. Five of us Zen center refugees began at about the same time. That helped. We were already a group of friends who were just taking on something new.

The Kenshin Taiko group is sponsored by the local Japanese Christian Church. We learn and practice at the church every Monday and Friday evening. Our main teacher is Ron, the fellow right in the front of the photo. He learned taiko when he was stationed in Japan with the Air Force. He is such a good drummer and a good teacher as well. I am so grateful for his patience with me especially because I am the one in the group who always takes a extra time to catch on to how things need to go. (And of course, the other teachers are great too...Laura, Bo, Sandy, Gigi, Stephen...I love them all.)

All anyone has to do is to show up. Lessons are all free, in hopes that things will "stick" and new people will become regular members. Since I have been going, the 5 of us are all performing now, and a few young people have been showing up often enough so that I know them. Two new people came last Friday..we'll see if they return.

The best part for me is to be part of this new community. I would never have met most of my new friends were it not for taiko. We are a very varied group of folks. I wonder how it is that all of us came to be here together. Doesn't matter. We're here now.

I was totally amazed when I got asked back in February or so if I wanted to join the group in performance. Me? Drumming on stage? In front of an audience? I turned won the first offer, but then said, sure, what the heck. Now I want to do everything.

We performed last Saturday at the local Japanese cultural festival, Nihon Matsuri. It was a pretty big deal. The consul general and his wife came from Denver and presented cherry trees to the two Japanese churches and to several other places in the city & county. A whole pile of politicians were there including the local member of the US House of Representatives.

I have to say we were the real "big hit" of the whole day. We had people in every seat and standing as deep as I could see. The cheers and applause were overwhelming.

My friend Sheri was watching. She was seated next to a young man, maybe in his 20's. He was cheering and clapping and commented to Sheri how he really loved it. Sheri told him that if he wanted to join the group he could, but he said he didn't have time. Then he said something like "it looks like there is even a lady in her 50's up there!" Sheri said to him, "Well, I happen to be 50, and I know for sure there are two women back there who are each 60 because they are my friends."

Taiko drumming...never to late to start.