May 18, 2021, Saugus- My visit with Mom, this evening, produced a lot of talk of her long life, with the joyous acknowledgement that her life is far from over. She is grateful that she has us, her children, tending to the house and making time to visit her in this first week in new quarters. None of us would have it any differently. Mother has given us so much of herself, from my own Day One, onward. Another woman in our nuclear family has taken on so much of tending to her needs- as well as initiating and maintaining the process of clearing and selling the old house. This week is the least we men can do to help out. I will likely be back, in late July or early August, to follow up with Mom’s progress in adjusting to her new home. In the meantime, she has plans to join in the Center’s activities and I know she will make new friends.
Curiously, the “don’t forget about us” calls and messages I have been getting, from elsewhere in the country and across the globe, have both made me put this current effort into perspective, and have triggered some old trauma, which has only been vaguely in my memory. I have figured a way to help another family, experiencing dislocation, even as my mother has successfully been resettled. There is someone else, in another part of the world, whose difficulties are, in large part, the result of his community’s failure to act in concert with one another. When I have encountered such dystopia, in the past, the feelings that have arisen are confusion, anxiety, then sadness, and finally, an angry outburst at those who refuse to work together. There is also a measure of self-loathing, as invariably those same people will turn and list all of what they claim are my own shortcomings and all the ways that I have failed them.
My psyche is changing, though, and I am seeing more clearly that the only way out of any impasse is for those on the ground to work together-and never for someone from outside to swoop in, throw money at the problem, and leave. That colonialist and patriarchal method has become the default for so many, in impoverished communities, both in this country and elsewhere. I am no longer going to blame myself for the refusal of others to help themselves, regardless of their own past experiences.
When I left Saugus, so many years ago, I was hobbled by fear, uncertainty of self-worth and the Rescuer Syndrome. That was not my parents’ fault, but it was my burden to cast aside. It is gone, now, and I feel it important to hold others to the same standard. All communities, especially those which are disadvantaged, need to band together and raise themselves up-confronting, as a unit, every single obstacle in their way.