Above, cross-section of human DNA, from the Voyager Tarot

Images & Truths: A Woman Comes to Fly

by Pam Purdy

AS A LITTLE girl Mary Poppins enchanted me. Not only could she fly, but she embodied what I knew a woman to be -- pretty, well-dressed, intelligent, caring, sophisticated, determined, responsible, loving, adventurous, prepared, self-sufficient, encouraging and even though she had a detached presence she would be there if you truly needed her.

Then as I grew older it was Laura Petre, remember Rob's wife on the first Dick van Dyck show. She brought in the element of sexuality and lessened the severity of Mary Poppins go-it-alone predilection.

There's another connection with Mary Poppins and Laura Petre and that's the male counterparts, Bert and Rob. In both situations it was Dick van Dyck in the role and he reminded me then of my own dad. So nice and tidy I found mom and dad in the twentieth century version of mythological archetypes, prat falls, "Now Bert" and "Oh Rob's" included.

Now, I realize these portrayals of women were really depictions of what I knew of my own mom. In her own way she brought these characteristics to life in my world every day. When I look at photographs of mom from the years surrounding my birth, there is a real woman's spirit distinctly visible.

Mom and I haven't talked much over the years about her feelings of sexuality or her experience in marriage with dad. There was a forbidden box in the closet though, put on a high shelf out of reach of the curious child. It's filled with letters my parents wrote to each other before mom arrived from England. That's the other connection to Mary Poppins. Such a subtle Sacred Whore name, a distinction I hadn't even considered until recent discussions led to this essay being written.

Recently though we have each found a way to be women together in our conversations. For me our talks have been significantly enlightening, especially concerning the interpretation of my mom I had been carrying around for many years. I was relying mostly on bits and pieces of family stories and photographs to comprise the image I had of mom during the years before and after I was conceived.

So when a group discussion started about moms and sexuality and specifically "did your mother come too?" at the moment of conception, the extent of missing information about mom was suddenly in the spotlight.

The woman I saw in my imagination was unhappy, miserable to be in a situation she no longer wanted to be involved with, in a place she could not feel was home. She wanted to leave, take her two-year-old daughter and go back to England where she could once again feel secure and independent and at the very least enjoy her surroundings. The photos showed to me a woman bordering on anorexia wanting to be elsewhere.

There's a voice that runs in my mind at times that sounds often like "if you say something about a person, then say the truth in the best way you are able." Mom calls just about each week; usually there's a brief message, other times we chat about family, the news and other general topics. Changes in both our lives have been leading us to a closer relationship with each other. Following participation in the discussion my inner voice got loud for me to get to the truth with the only person who could give it. This time mom received a call from me. We talked for a long while about us, as women. We shared our feelings, disappointments and hopes, and some experiences.

Without hesitation mom responded to the question of if she remembered what she was feeling when I was conceived. Her first words, "Oh I knew right away. I had that special feeling." She continued to tell me the story of that August afternoon with such a lively presence I could almost feel the warmth of her body in the room with me. As I listened to her talking I heard the voice of a vibrant passionate young woman full of joy and contentment. This was the first time in our talks that mom spoke to me with the fullness of that lovely voice. Her love that she was sharing with me through the telling of her story tingled within. The experience of being with my mom through this unfolding of herself to me lingers with me in a most enchanting way. The child within this woman was nourished once again.

The photos show the true image but they do not give the whole story. Mom was very ill throughout both her pregnancies, unable to take in much sustenance and there was some anxiety. There were complications in the birth of my older sister and concerns of a similar ordeal were present before my birth. Also part of mom's feeling was the desire to be in England to be with her family and missed friends, but by then the wanting was not so urgent as it had been.

Throughout this retelling there has been an image with me of a spiraling staircase, each portion of the story bringing me to a new level of perspective of the woman who is mom to me. A doorway to a better understanding of myself has been opened with each view. Mom, as a woman, appears to me now in a far more holistic sense. Her presence in the photos is enhanced by the knowledge of her real experience. They have a nearly animated imagery now. She is seen in the clarity of a new light. It is very odd as time goes, but at forty-one, I am of the age now, where that young woman of twenty-three who conceived a child, could be a daughter. Therein is the cycle of womanhood, the spiral of conception, birth, child, woman --

-- here we are moving upward through the spiral to take flight through the moonlight of womanly glow...

with love --

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