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Sunday, May 10, 2015
I am a male. Just entered my seventh decade. I was formed more by my mother than any other person. She gave birth to me, she fed and clothed me, she fought ferociously with me when my revolutionary socialist views clashed with her conservative views. But in that fight she also formed me. She taught me to stand up for what I believed even as she was trying to change what I believed. My psychological and emotional toughness comes from this struggle. I am forever in her debt.
My mother was a peasant woman who before her marriage worked as a servant in the "big houses" of the landlord class in Ireland. She learnt things there in those culturally more developed households, how to cook, how to wash linen, how to iron linen, how to polish silver. But she also learnt other things. She learnt the backward ideas of these households, that society was as it should be, that the rich had the right to rule, that the poor were not capable of ruling, that the poor were poor because of their own actions.
When my mother married she married a peasant man - my father. She worked from dawn to dusk. She had not a minute to herself. One of her most used expressions was: "A women's work is never done." My mother could read and write but that was as far as her schooling went. She never read a book. At night when she had a few minutes she would knit sweaters which she would sell to supplement the family budget.
But there was something more. My mother never saw a Van Gogh. She never saw a Rembrandt. But she did make butter. She had two small wooden butter pats. They had designs. Every Monday morning, butter making day, she would shape the butter into rectangular shaped blocks. And using the pats with their designs she would make designs on the blocks of butter. These were her art. These were her Van Goghs her Rembrandts. These were her unconscious struggle for her art.
On this day which the corporations have made into a day of looting, of conning us into buying and buying and buying, and increasing their profits, I remember my mother's struggle for art. And I remember how angry she would become myself and my sisters would fall for the corporate propaganda and try and buy her something. Instead she just wanted us to bring her some daffodils. She taught us well. This we did. She would put them on a vase on the table. These were also her art. Today I will pick some daffodils in her memory.