Category Archives: Mother’s Day

The Year My Mother Became My Auntie Mame

  • A Mother’s Day reflection

The Year My Mother Became My Auntie Mame

A Mother’s Day Reflection

“…get the message of my book. Live, that’s the message!”

– Auntie Mame (Patrick Dennis- author)

When my mother turned forty, her hair turned red and that was it; she was off to the races. She became a liberated woman. The local theater troupe gained an invaluable actress as well as a director. The local nudist colony had a valued new resident. The local Science of Mind Temple got a new congregant.

This sudden revolution in our nuclear unit did not take place without resistance. We were a conservative Jewish family. For my mom to break out of the confines of the home was one thing but to go outside of the circle of the religion?  My dad is an honorable man, who really didn’t know how to handle the situation, and that train had left the station. Even the silent treatment he gave her as a last resort, was no match for my mom’s resolve.  After a week of giving her the cold shoulder, he realized there was nothing to put his foot down on.  The foundation of our lives had shifted. It was no longer where it had been at all. I used to joke that we would soon be hosting a Martian convention.

I remember standing outside of the laundry room a few years prior, listening to my mom quietly cry. I asked what was wrong and she said, “It’s nothing.” I longed to be able to do something for her in that moment. Her lament was not about her family. It was about innately knowing there was a universe inside her expanding and not knowing how to expand with it. The plight of the fifties’ housewife was something with which she was not prepared to be content. What she was yearning for was wholesale liberation.

Once she made up her mind, she never looked back. Even Science of Mind was just the first station on her spiritual trek up a mountain that is, still to this day, rising.

I got swept up in her revolution, joining her in theatrical productions, at the nudist colony, at Science of Mind meetings, at a matinee of the controversial French romantic film Cousin Cousine.

Mom didn’t abandon the house. We still had our meals together, my sister and I made it to school on time, we still had clean clothes.  My mom’s clothes, when she wore them, were brighter, still classy, always classy, but with more of a theatrical flair. Overall, after a few months, there was just a lot more leivity, as if there was an extra breeze that hadn’t been there before.  Our house became filled with the laughter of wild thespians, authentically larger than life characters. Late night parties ensued, complete with group singing, around our upright piano.

My mom had really just taken me along on her adventures but I loved the whole thing. It was a grand opening that never stopped. It was as if I had popped into the novel Auntie Mame. The book inspired both the play and movie and was about a boy, his eccentric aunt, and their bohemian, outrageous adventures. “Life,” as Mame would say, was indeed “a banquet,” and not only was my cup overflowing, I was able to pour some out to those around me as well.  I had friends at school and had made my classmates laugh but my new extended theater family were really my people.  My mother became a portal for us, to not escape into, but to be transported fully into who we were meant to be.

The fact that I became an actor, a musician and someone who aspires to inspire peace and connection between faiths, communities and colorful lifestyles, all bloomed the year my mother came out to her fabulousness. I never heard her cry behind a closed door again.

My mom- Sally Levin as Sweet Charity

Sally Lee Levin has become a dedicated fountain of life, a river of positive affirmation and a healing presence for those within the rippling circumference of her heart.

My dad was not only a good sport but rose to the occasion of my mom’s transformation with award-winning valor. He still rolls his eyes at some of my mom’s beliefs, but acknowledges that she is very powerful. He is grateful for her and their invaluable, intertwining partnership.

My sister aimee, (She spells her name with a lower-case ‘a’.) was a teenager and was essentially doing her own thing during mom’s emancipation. Still, I believe it sent a message to her that she could be strong within herself and become what she was drawn to be. My sister is a doctor of audiology with a thriving practice and has two wonderful children of her own.

So, here’s to unconventional, strong moms and how they model life for us inside and outside the circle of our expectation and understanding.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Making peace with Mother’s Day

I would like to officially extend Mother’s Day into a life-long celebration.  This weekend was overflowing with Hallmark cards, flower arrangements, teddy bears and balloons sold on the side of the road, but the love of the ones who gave us life is a sacred bond that can be honored with external gratitude and internal reflection.

Mother’s Day, as we know it was started by Anna Jarvis for her mother Ann Reeves Jarvis, who started Mother’s Day Work clubs in the 1850’s to tend to the wounds of solders on both sides of the Civil War and to lower the infant mortality rate.  Later, these work days became Mother’s Friendship Day Picnics, where these same women would get together to promote peace by having a light feasts for former foes.

Anna Jarvis started Mother’s Day in West Virginia in honor of her mom, when she passed away.  Her original intention was to celebrate your own mother, not all mothers, (like Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.)  Her celebration soon became a national and international holiday.  Anna Jarvis, who could have capitalized on this, actually spend all of her money and sanity fighting the commercialization of what the day became.

In honor of her original intention, I would like to give a special thanks to Sally Lee Rubin Levin.  During an era of Mad Men, where women stayed at home in the kitchen, my mom found her own path of spirituality, became an actress and director, frequented nudist colonies and was outspoken, even when it made her shake.

She managed to do all this and remain kind, supportive and fun.  She has taught me that to be true to your craft, you have to be true to yourself and bring a light to whatever situation you are in.  She is a great light in so many lives and when you are with her, it is an invitation to be yourself, participate in the moment and live it up.

Beyond the commercialization, here is to all the moms we know and to those that live inside of us.

May we be nurtured and nurturing.

*******************************************************************

Nature — the Gentlest Mother is, Impatient of no Child — The feeblest — or the waywardest — Her Admonition mild — In Forest — and the Hill — By Traveller — be heard — Restraining Rampant Squirrel — Or too impetuous Bird — How fair Her Conversation — A Summer Afternoon — Her Household — Her Assembly — And when the Sun go down — Her Voice among the Aisles Incite the timid prayer Of the minutest Cricket — The most unworthy Flower — When all the Children sleep — She turns as long away As will suffice to light Her lamps — Then bending from the Sky — With infinite Affection — And infiniter Care — Her Golden finger on Her lip — Wills Silence — Everywhere —

***********************************************************************

To My Mother

Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,

The angels, whispering to one another,

Can find, among their burning terms of love,

None so devotional as that of “Mother,”

Therefore by that dear name I long have called you-

You who are more than mother unto me,

And fill my heart of hearts, where Death installed you,

In setting my Virginia’s spirit free.

My mother—my own mother, who died early,

Was but the mother of myself; but you

Are mother to the one I loved so dearly,

And thus are dearer than the mother I knew

by that infinity with which my wife

Was dearer to my soul than its soul-life.

 

by Edgar Allan Poe, addressed to his mother-in-law