I was always conscious of referring to my mother as more than that. Artist/crafter, humanist, dietitian, traveler, swimmer. It springs partly from my decision to remain childless, early feminism, and my mother herself. She was forthright, bold, encouraging, sardonic, sometimes depressed, and seemed questing for an identity beyond motherhood.
Always aware of her Catholic fueled burden of producing four kids in a row, I floated towards her and away from my mother most of my life, making the most peace in her final year, about 2019 to 2020.
I bought the beautiful Ho’oponopono mantra for forgiveness to her and asked if we could repeat it to each other whenever we talked on the phone, 1000 miles apart. As the months wore on and her life force began to fade, we’d run out of pleasantries and turn to the mantra.
PLEASE FORGIVE ME
I LOVE YOU
In our mutual dyslexia we’d often get the order mixed up. Sometimes, my mother would pause and ask, what am I asking forgiveness for? I could think of a million transgressions, hurts, abandonments, rejections ~ the typical short fallings of the parent. Stating I’m Sorry brought up the guilt of my teenage meanness, disregard and anger. But we pushed through, in a call and repeat fashion. At the finish of the prayer, a sense of relief blossomed, and it felt as if a necessity had been completed.
My mother, Helen Dziatlik Rusk passed in the midst of Covid, May 16, 2020. I was able to repeat the Ho’oponopono forgiveness mantra with her up to the day before her death.
Perhaps her spirit visited me in the form of the baby hoot owl on my fence the day after.
Her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, me and my friend DDM had a celebration of our mother's life in Racine, Wisconsin in July of 2022. We roamed around to the places she loved, Wustum Art Museum, the Racine Quarry, ending up at the Wind Point Lighthouse, where as kids, we’d wander the shore for stone fossils, bleached fish bones and beach glass. My mother always found the most intriguing stuff, building into her artworks.
My sister Cheri had fashioned several beautiful glass hearts containing my mother’s ashes, which various family members dropped into a sculpture fountain, left in the crook of a tree, spun into a Lake Michigan wave. I buried my heart at the base of the light house. We completed the celebration at a rather rococo WI supper club. It was a fine, blurry tribute.
I miss my mother daily. I connect with her during Family and Systemic Constellations as I explore and heal ancestral issues. It is an extraordinary gift. She tells me not to worry, get in some water, calm my heart and then I recall a humorous and loving moment we shared. What all mothers, elevated and human, are wont to do for their children.
PLEASE FORGIVE ME
I LOVE YOU
Helen D Rusk in her spangled hat. July 3rd, 2016.