Here’s my mom on her 98th birthday, October 12, 2012, at a Chinese restaurant in her neighborhood Redondo Beach. I and my friend Ann Buck are taking her out to lunch. Her vibe and comment tell the whole story. (To learn a little bit more about Ann, check out what our mutual friend Jennifer Grey says here.)
Below you’ll find some audio clips of my mom reminiscing about my childhood. On the right is her current photo and on the left is how she looked when I was a little boy in the 1940s. You can see where I got my good looks. J
I have very little natural ability or natural inclination towards meditation. In early life I was unusually wimpy, whiny, and fussy. Also, I was perennially impatient. On top of that, I had a proclivity to be destructive, including towards myself (when I’d get frustrated, I’d bang my head on the sidewalk). I was also pretty mean (just ask my brother).
I actually like for people to know what a poor meditation candidate I am based on the tendencies of my early life. I take it as a positive. If a person like me can be successful, anyone can be successful. You’ll hear some of the details in Clip #1. (FYI, a bunch of Yiddish words appear in this dialogue; here are links to their spellings and meanings: kvetch, sitzfleisch, schpilkes, naches.)
Clip 1 (03:48)
In Clip #2, my mom continues to talk about my earlier life and the influences on me, and the changes that I went through. We talk about a famous natural reserve in Arizona called Madera Canyon and the ginormous grasshoppers I used to collect there. My mom also talks about early influences from the Cornell University Department of Entomology, which molded my young mind in a scientific direction.
Clip 2 (03:59)
Although there were some rocky points early on, I’m pleased to say that my relationship with my family of origin has been absolutely wonderful for decades. After my dad passed away in the early 80s, my mom asked me to teach her mindfulness. She’s been practicing on her own and coming to retreats ever since then. It doesn’t get any better than that!
Update: My mom passed away on the morning of Friday, January 31st, 2014.