Wednesday, May 5, 2021

We've Been Here Before

 As I've said already this year, and probably previous years, this stretch of the year between mid-March and mid-May contains a lot of anniversaries.


Monday of this past week was my mother's birthday. I posted these photos on Instagram: 





She's at her office at Oklahoma State University, with a couple of colleagues. I do love to see her laughing (something in the flash of the wristwatch on her arm in the photo is especially poignant), but I also like the photo of her (I cropped out the chair of the Mathematics Department) being her pleasant-and-professional professorial self. 


She had a public persona. She worked and taught and dreamed mathematical dreams, and I am grateful to have seen that, every day, at home. Even though she yelled at me often about the inadequate sharpness of my pencils, I know she did it from love. As mothers do.


The anniversary of her death comes at the transition, this week, from Friday to Saturday--"she died at midnight" is what my father said on the phone, no doubt desperately wishing it weren't true--and then we all (in North America) have Mother's Day on Sunday. Yay for mothers, and those who wish they could have been, and those who have mothered in any form, and those of us who generally recognized it wasn't our calling. Yay to all of us.


In case you missed it, I've also been here recently, talking with great delight about another book well worth your time:


Fuse, by Hollay Ghadery, is a remarkable book. I’ve seen it labeled “memoir,” but I’d describe it as a collection of personal — very personal — essays. Organized around themes, the chapters include poetic fragments and reflections, narratives and insights, considerations and re-considerations. Instead of building to a narrative climax, this rich material forms a mosaic, a representation of a life that’s coherent but still in progress. Ghadery deftly supplements her lived experience with background information to give readers insight into a larger cultural context.


Many thanks to Vicki Ziegler, who hosted this review at her bookgaga.ca site, which includes more fabulousness about genius ideas such as the Silent Book Club and daily poetry reading and is well worth checking out.


I said last week that I was in a sort of miraculous reading space where I was reading a lot of works I liked, and that's still true. 


I will add (again) that "liking" work isn't necessarily why I read. I've read a lot in the past year I haven't "liked," in the sense of "great beach read" sense. Books that some would label "difficult." I relish those kinds of books, too, especially if the writers are writing from their expertise (lived experience) and push against my preconceptions and comfort level. 


But there's a special sort of joy I feel when reading a book that makes space for a world and welcomes me into it, even when I don't know all the tree names and can't label relationships easily. I so appreciate the generosity of writers who labour to make those worlds and go through the rigours of the publishing industry to make them available to the rest of us. 


And because I feel the need to sum up, I'll just say that times of remembrance, contemplation, and appreciation seem to come in seasons. I'm grateful to be here in this year's spring.