Tag Archives: motherless daughters

She is a Light that Still Shines on Me

10 Feb

Phyllis Danzig

It is exactly 20 years today since my mother passed away. I have had many thoughts over the last few days about what I would want to write to commemorate her. Twenty years is a long time. If you’ve read my posts before, you know that I have a pretty easy time focusing on the positive and celebrating my mom.  But sometimes (and I know you’ll understand), I get mad and maudlin that she’s gone at all.  I was having one of those moments while watching the very special and wonderful Beatles 50th Anniversary Show last night. And, just then, John Legend and Alicia Keys sang, “Let it Be.” Those of us who thought the Mother Mary in the song was the Virgin Mary, found out that we were mistaken. Paul McCartney was inspired to write the song when he had a dream about his mom speaking to him.  “He also said in a later interview about the dream that his mother had told him ‘It will be all right, just let it be’” (Wikipedia and multiple sources).  And, that is just what happens to me over and over again. Even throughout the last twenty years, just as she did during the thirty years we shared, my mom whispers to me. She doesn’t always tell me to let things be. Sometimes, she tells me what action to take or how to react. I have written about the risks (http://wp.me/p1lBgS-6V) she encouraged me to take and how I still “listen” to her. I am just so glad and so fortunate that I can still hear her voice and feel her wisdom.

Watching the show last night and thinking about the crazy 1960’s, I realized I do not know much about how my mom felt about The Beatles.  I do not think she was crazy about them. I know about some of the music she liked (http://wp.me/p1lBgS-6V), but not a lot. I would love to know her reaction to the Feb. 9, 1964 Ed Sullivan show, which incidentally, happened when she was about 6 months pregnant with me! I know details about where she was (Bloomingdales in NYC) and how she reacted when JFK was shot and she was a few months pregnant with me, but nothing about The Beatles.

I do know that, especially now, I am grateful to Paul McCartney for putting into words the feeling I have had for the past twenty years. One of the ways that I have coped with being a motherless daughter is by letting it be.  It is so true that

“When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary (Phyllis) comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be…”

(http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/beatles/letitbe.html)

And, I am very lucky that because Phyllis Danzig was my mom, “There is still a light that shines on me.”

Speaking of Sex…

28 Apr

Were you a fan of Dr. Ruth Westheimer? If you have not heard her voice since the 1980s when her radio show, Sexually Speaking, was one of the most risqué and popular, click Dr. Ruth’s Youtube Channel . If you’re too young, did not live in the New York area in the 1980s or just did not tune in, click the channel anyway— you’ll understand the point of this post after watching her introduction.  I had the most fortunate experience this past Friday night when she spoke during my Temple’s Shabbat service. Dr. Ruth is as spunky and full of good advice as ever! And, she is 84 years old! I always admired her. After learning more about her past and about the tremendous work she has done, I am just in awe.

As I sat in Temple, mesmerized by her presence and giggling as she told heart-warming and humorous stories, I could not help but wonder how I ever felt comfortable listening to her sex advice as a teenager and even more astonishing–  with my parents in the car!! Did you listen to Sexually Speaking alone? Or, with others? Either we were intrigued enough to overcome embarrassment or she made the subject of sex tolerable, or both. Not only did she give explicit and seemingly sound advice, she normalized a taboo topic.

I would actually like to try an experiment and I’ll let you know if I do: listening to her give advice with my teenage children present. I can just imagine being in the car with my 16 year old son (my age when her talk show was becoming popular), and turning to a radio station featuring Dr. Ruth talking about various sex positions. My son would turn red and immediately change the station.  I cannot as easily predict my 19 year old daughter’s reaction.  I think she would be less embarrassed, but still not at all interested in listening together.

The best thing about the Dr. Ruth’s mission is that she tried to make situations better for couples and individuals. She wanted people to be happy. She thought good sex was a key to happiness (no more comments on that—phew, I certainly don’t want to stray from my blog’s main purpose….) and I bet she did save some marriages.

Most engaging for me, was her theme this past Friday night. To avoid any disrespect on the Sabbath, she refrained from explicit talk during the service (she did promise more open and less edited conversation after services ended). The advice she wanted to give was more about her life than sex. She emphasized the “Chutzpah” needed to find happiness and success. Her accomplishments, she said, were due to her seizing the moment and taking risks. She implored the younger generation to find opportunity, take advantage of offers and take chances. These are messages my mom endorsed. During her talk, I thought about my mom and the similar advice she gave.