Goddesses in the Dust: Memories of My Mother
Unearthing the Divine Feminine, one archetype at a time...
|Taking my first steps at a park in Torino, Italy|
Twenty years ago today, my mother passed away. It's hard to believe two decades of life have been lived since that time, a whole era which saw my own children growing up - children she barely had a chance to know - an entire span of life lived without my mother there to love and share it with.
Even though she died too soon, she lived a very full life. One of my favorite experiences was when my mom came to work on our excavation in Ithaka, Greece. We had been digging for weeks and mom planned to join me at the end of the season; however a TWA jet had been hijacked and the State Department warned against travel to Greece. Braving the odds, my mom came anyway, flying into the neighboring island airport, where I had planned to pick her up. To get there in time for her arrival, I arose early in the morning and boarded the ferry to Kefalonia, then took a cab across the mountain range to the small airport.
We rode in the taxi back over the mountains to the port, stopping the driver when we saw a field of lavender, to gather an armload of the flowers for our room. The next ferry wasn't until nighttime, so I had arranged with a local fisherman to take us in his skiff across the straights between the islands. A smelly fishing boat was not the most elegant welcome to Ithaka, as the waves slapped against the hull, knocking her luggage - and us - around. A friend met us at the small port with a pick up truck. She drove us over the central ridge of the island and back to the little town where the team was staying. With the tiny hotel full, some team members had to stay with local families and mom and I settled into a room in an islander's home.
I was used to living in crowded conditions with other people but mom was not. The bathroom in the tiny island cottage was - inexplicably - located between the kitchen and the hall. One day she was taking a shower and the elderly man who lived in the house nonchalantly walked through the bathroom en route to the kitchen. Needless to say, it freaked my poor mother out. Yet in spite of the strange living conditions, she was a great sport. She rose at dawn every day with the rest of the team for the drive up the winding mountain road to the site. She worked with me side by side in the trenches, stopping only briefly midday, when we would eat a spartan lunch under the olive trees.
When the season came to an end, we made the journey across to the mainland first by ferry, then by bus to Athens. Knowing mom had been roughing it for weeks in the heat and dirt on a remote island, my Dad had arranged for us to stay at a fancy hotel the night before our flight. We took a cab from the bus station, and when we arrived in front of the lobby, I have never seen my mother move so fast, making a beeline to the room. She never left the entire night, ordering room service instead of going out to eat and enjoying the modern - and private - plumbing.
Mom may not have wanted to go on another dig again, but I will always be grateful that she showed such interest and took the time to find out more about the career I had chosen. The glamor of the imagined life of an archaeologist was quickly replaced by the reality of the dirt and heat, occasional snakes and scorpions and the odd man wandering through your bathroom. But she never complained and I will always remember her for her willingness to take a chance and enjoy the experience to its fullest. Mom was a strong, resilient woman, and I'd like to think that I have inherited some of her courage and zest for life.
I'll leave with an image of her, seated in regal beauty, appropriately, in the throne room of an ancient Greek palace.
Thank you, Mom. I love you, and I miss you.