Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Of Dreams, Drums and Mothers

Our oldest daughter, Josina Manu, had a dream the other night and shared it with me:

i had a very long involved dream last night. in one part i was in a living room with a number of women, and you were there across from me. i was telling a story about something i had read in a book. your mother interrupted me and started telling a story, i can't remember how it started but she started to dance, she was moving her feet in a step and then leaned forward, still dancing, and began describing how the drums used to be made. she was motioning over a handbag as if it were the drum, and explaining how the barrels were made of metal but they would stretch the skin over it and sew it on before they were done smithing the metal. once the skin was on then they would finish working the metal. all the while she spoke, her hands were in the motion of stretching, then sewing the skin, and her feet were still moving in dance.
there were many mothers in my dream, and ancestors. when i woke and was describing the dream, i kept saying "misa's mother" but not mary. i honestly don't know if it was mary or grandma florence, because she had a younger face that i didn't recognize.
but i wanted to tell you about it.

It almost seemed as if she dreamed a dream for me during this hard time because it carries such meaning for me, and at this point, is very comforting. There is a reason why Josina could not tell whether it was my Mama or Grandma Florence.

I have two mothers. One is my Mama who gave birth to me and raised me the best she could. The other came into my life when I became a mother and had no clue what I could do to mother this little one, our second daughter, who had already made up her mind about life in an orphanage in Korea. We clearly were in over our heads and needed help, and went for help to Winnemem spiritual leader and doctor, Florence Jones, whom we call Granny.

My mother, Mary, gave me the framework of my life to carry me along. For me, the metal circular frame is from my mom. And, then, Granny made a drum of me.

That needs to be explained. Al Smith, a wise Klamath elder, was sitting in a counseling circle of former addicts, watching his friend expertly lead a conversation. Afterwords, his friend asked him what he thought. Al said, "remember that you aren't the drummer, but you are the drum." That really resounded in me. I think many of us offer ourselves to be drummed. I know I did. And it led me to Granny. And daughters.

Both Granny and my mother carried handbags. They carried EVERYTHING in the handbag. It wasn't a place for money only. There were things to soothe, to cure, to comfort, to stave off hunger AND things to mend, to patch, to cut, to fix, to prettify, to write notes, to open things up, to entertain. Like I said, everything. They were prepared for anything. Both these women certainly meant to prepare me for everything I might face. Therefore, the handbag, and circling mother hands fashioning a metal piece and that metal form completed by another mother fitted with a drum head. They worked together and molded me.

Both were so strong and full of vigor and life, in different ways, of course, my two mothers.

This is a beautiful dream where my mother(s) revealed themselves to our eldest daughter, Josina.

It's a blessing for mothers to be taught that they are not the drummer but the drum offering themselves to be drummed. There is something about daughters and mothers which ultimately teach that lesson to one another, "we are not the drummer; we are the drums who offer ourselves to be drummed."

Dedicated to: Mary, Florence and their mothers and to Josina, Maki, and Margaret, and our little blessing Celeste. And since our family is very complicated, to our daughters' other mothers and grandmothers and other daughters. It seems we are a clan of two-mothered daughters.

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"from Outside the Belly" was also known as "TBAsian" from 2008-2010. Thank you for reading.

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Eugene, Oregon
I am a citizen of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. I am a Nikkei descendant sansei (third generation);retired teacher, involved in the Winnemem tribal responsibility to Water, Salmon, and our belief that the Sacred is our Teacher. Working locally for human rights and supporting youth leadership.