The Annus horribilis nears its final demise, and another tear traces its way down a weathered cheek. A mother misses her child. The bullwhip strikes the next blow, and a 24/7 mind re-runs the last 365. A mother’s heart never rests easy, the maternal mind replays, everything. The deep welts of self-flagellation burn white-hot, and the mother agonizes, over where and when she had failed. A mother, no matter how exceptional, will rarely never, feel adequate. The bullwhip is heavy, heaved high for the next exquisite, unforgiving lashing, but of a sudden, the mother recoils in revulsion as the mirror reflects her self-inflicted wounds. The child’s choices are their own. The bullwhip falls from her hand, shatters the flawed belief that she had any control over, and little to no contribution, in what has transpired, and a mother comes to the stunning revelation that: she is but flogging the rotting flesh of a long dead horse. Rest in scarred and jagged equine pieces, A mother must find joy! ~Marcela, December 31, 2020: looking back to move forward. Writing: All Rights Reserved Image: Google Search 'Palomino'
March 22, 2017
This day last year I stood on your doorstep, and told you that Miller had died. Four days ago we stood with so many others and celebrated Matty’s life. They were both your age. Kids you knew, kids we both had significant connections to. And they both died the tragedy which your very existence provided me a most narrow escape from, so many years ago. I owe you Thomas. It has been a bizarre little year, and hard to believe how much changed, in only 365 days. How much you have changed, in only 365 days. How much ‘we’ have changed.
We shared a roof again for the first time since you flew the mama-coop almost 7 years ago, and you got to experience my home world in a much different capacity, as an adult. During that precious, though most difficult cohabitation (we know why, but this isn’t about my ill-fated romantic escapades), I was gifted with many insights into who you have become, a view that I could not have glimpsed in the course of a less closely-quartered relationship, consisting only of weekly drive-by-huggings. I treasure that unexpected and challenging time we shared.
The kind, sweet, compassionate parts I have always known were readily visible, as always, to my ever-biased eye, and came as no surprise. They have been an integral part of you since the moment you took your first breath, and broke my heart so beautifully, on this day 26 years ago. At 1:29 p.m., Central European Time, to be precise.
Sharing space again was not the challenge, rather the battle we each waged with our respective demons-of-the-moment, which then manifested in our adult-child/childish(?)parent duo. A most welcome revelation during that brief roomie-relationship last spring and summer, was witnessing you put into practice, under highly inauspicious circumstances, some of my oft repeated, and most relentless teachings:
- Stand up for yourself and above all, for others when they cannot!
- Question everything, use critical thinking skills to analyze everything and everyone in the world!
- Be willing to re-think and revise your own beliefs, always!
- Question and challenge me, and mine!!!
That last one was/is hard for you, and I am tempted to apologize but I won’t. You did, you do good with it! I don’t make it easy. I know.
To my utter chagrin, I also watched you demonstrate some of my ‘best parenting,’ in a number of your habits, confounding, even provocative and head-strong ways of being! I can but express my remorse and regret for those bits, and forge ahead to lead by a different example than the one I obviously provided you at some point in time. Neither mama-flagellation nor Sunny-bashing is the purpose of including this piece, it is important though, to me, that I live with a more balanced view of my heroes. For not even you, my most beloved, all-time favourite human on this planet, in the galaxy, the universe, are perfect. And for me to live with that skewed perspective is a set-up for you, and for me. Because it damn well hurts when our heroes fall off the lofty pedestals, upon which we situate them. That in mind, I will only raise you to an altitude we can both withstand a fall from. Because we will, fall. Splat.
Watching you this last year, the softness you had for your babi during her painful struggle, and for me, having you close, through some of the hardest times you/we have experienced to date, and holy moly Bat-boy that says something (because have you met our life?), has yet again, been my ultimate saving grace. Once more, I owe you Thomas.
Twenty-six will be fabulous BabyCakes, and I look forward to more! More surprises, more challenges, more of everything we have always known together, more crazy, and more learning, about ourselves, each other, and how to evolve and function even better, individually and as ‘the set,’ we have always been. I can only beseech my atheist Ungods that we will always be, that set. ‘Always’ being so fully and inadequately impermanent and all, but you get my point!?
No words, no language (not even profanity), suffice to describe the gift of your presence in my world, for 26 years and counting. Who says I can’t do long-term relationships?! Our relationship has evolved, and not without serious growing pains, to something it has never been before, something I am loathe to label in any way, other than to say it is more grown up. On both ends. Which means you’re right on schedule, and me, well, sorry, bit of a late bloomer in some areas of life…
High five SunnyBoyManChildBabyCakesSnookemBooBabyCzechThommyCzechBatBoy (did I get them all?), we did well! No, we did fucking awesome! Yeah, that’s better, we did Fucking Awesome!
Happiest of happy birthdays to you child!
With the Maddest of Madd Love,
here we are again, March 22nd; the 24th March 22nd that I have the privilege of sharing with you; it is the absolute honour of all honours to be your parent. My Sunny-Boy-ManChild-BabyCakes, and all the other crazy names I have attached to your beautiful spirit over the years, you know, the ones you initially balk at, but always throw the good-son towel in on, because you know, mama gonna be mama and call you things other than the names so carefully and lovingly chosen for you before we ever met face to face.
I will spare us the regurgitation of all the reasons I love you so fiercely, we can revisit them here in our old(er) age, in the event that we forget, but they are indelibly etched into the very core of my being either way, so when the world blows up (ala Alex Jones ;) ) and we have lost all e-records and interwebs postings proclaiming my mama love for you, we will know anyway.
This March 22nd begs a different message from me to you. It begs a message of thanks and deeply profound gratitude, and with any luck, some-mama wisdom that one day, you will see fit to use, the way that I was able to use the uncondionality you once again showed me, through some of the toughest shit in a while, over this past year.
Thank you for standing your ground with mama in what in the grand scheme of things was a relatively benign little online exchange, around some political ideas on anti v. pro-activism. The discussion we had off-line about the process of it, for both of us, is what real love, trust, and this thing called relationship, are made of.
Thank you for standing your ground and letting me know in no uncertain terms that you wanted the Europe trip to happen no matter what, but that you would not be happy doing it without the mama. It was our trip for as long as we can both remember, for so many more reasons than I can articulate here, and it matters not, for we both know.
Thank you for forcing mama’s hand, in the kindest, gentlest, but completely Thomas-honest way, and helping me remember what is actually important in the world, reminding me what the last five years of struggle and re-building of Marcela, and by natural extension, how I do ‘parent of Thomas,’ has been all about.
Thank you for seeing beyond the surface of everything that had to do with everything about our going home(s), re-meeting your dad, your brothers, your nieces, your nephew, your cousins, your aunts and uncles, all of them, it.
Thank you for understanding my pain through it, thank you for not trying to fix what was never yours, thank you for holding my hand through all of it, in the midst of your own process through it. Thank you for having your mama’s back, unflinchingly as ever, no matter what.
Thank you for making it one of the most singularly spectacular events in my well-used life, other than the day of your actual birth, 24 years ago today.
Thank you for last summer after we got back. For the ear through the phone line during so many tearful drives to and from Nanaimo, up and down that LaMaHat, for the drive-by huggings at PV and the softness in your voice when you could read my broken heart all over me; the one threatening to obliterate everything I knew to be true about me, again.
Thank you for holding my well-lit heart together with the unconditional glue of who you are, and for seeing it, me, as the fallible human-parent I am, and your loyalty to our relationship not despite that, but because of it.
Thank you for expressing your disdain for men(?) behaving badly in both my personal and professional worlds, and thank you for behaving well despite your disdain and anger toward those less chivalrous, less kind.
Thank you for your response to that most unexpected of phone calls this afternoon from your dad, only one of us responded with the grace and wisdom of the Universe itself; clearly, age is no guarantee of these things, and thank you for understanding, once again, my misguided irritation by parts of said phone call. It was a beautiful thing, and that, is all you saw. I take another page from your book.
Thank you for all of the trust you continue to place in me with the really great, and really tough life shit, and thank you for showing me, over and over again, the many variations on any given theme. For an open-minded mama, my ever well-heeled feet can dig in, hard, at times.
Thank you for simple happiness at the recent changes in my life, completely and utterly bereft of chagrin at the speed in which things are changing. Thank you for understanding that risk is necessary.
Thank you for starting to put into action your next great adventure, and thank you, more than you will ever know, for saying you would come back for next April 25th. Thank you for allowing me to mama-guide you, ok, I ordered you, not to.
Thank you for using the lessons of my and your own well-used life, to propel you forward, ever forward, and for teaching me back, my own preach about teaching children How to think, not what to think.
The beautifully important and life(choice)-scarred words that mean so much to you they are permanently etched onto your forearm often bear true Sunny, ‘Storm is prerequisite for mental gain,’ but just as we are the creators of our own happiness, the same is true for the storms, if only by virtue of the reactions, responses, associations, patterns, meanings, we Choose to attach to any of it; the good, the bad, the ugly, the indifferent, the sublime, and the ridiculous.
That there; be mama’s current learning curve BabyCakes, BabyCzech, and Number One Marsupial-Child! It is my most fervent desire for you, that you don’t require almost 54 years of life to get there, and if you do, I have all the faith in the world, that you will traverse the trails, highways, byways and ditches with the same wild abandon and spirit of risk, that you have watched your mama grow into, and continue to understand, that the Only failure, Ever, is not trying at all.
Our Dorothy used to say, ‘pain and suffering are inevitable in this world, continuing misery, is purely optional.’ Curmudgeonly beauty that she often was, she was right.
I love you with the same ferocity and wild that I often go at anything with, only infinitely deeper.
Tattoo on Sunny’s Arm by Sam, Killer Bees Tattoos – Melbourne, Australia
‘Storm is prerequisite to mental gain’ from ‘Liquid Sovereignty’ by Eydea & Abilities
July 7th has rolled around once more, and 43 years, in this moment feels like 43 seconds, for I will always, and forever, miss you. I get my rebel, my power, my wisdom, my ability to see the truth, my stubborn-never-give-up from you, and also the fragility and dandelion fluff inside that we both hid/e from the rest of the world, so that they cannot harm, damage, our oh-so-vulnerable humanity. It never changes for me, this day. Time does not heal all wounds, it simply grows scar tissue over them which dulls the ache, allows me to think about you with some clarity, remember the entirety of your being, and how you still, 43 years after your untimely departure, teach me, guide me, help me keep my rebel on, with some measure of grace and dignity.
The untold story of my hero
I want to tell you this story. It is the evolving story of a hero, who through the process of me growing up, had to be seen, by me, as human, before he could be my hero, for real for real. He was my first and biological father, Tomáš Mrnka. He was born in the country formerly known as Czechoslovakia on October 24th 1935, and died, under extremely curious circumstances, in a mine shaft in Stewart BC, on July 7th, 1971. It was 12 days before my 10th birthday. He was 36 years old, and when he died, everything I ever hoped for, and dreamed of, died with him. For a while… a long while.
I held him on a pedestal of my own making for many, too many, years after his death, and only ever thought about him in a haze of golden glory and undeserved persecution. I only ever told stories of his heroic actions: his undeserved imprisonment in the old country for a democratic cause, his valiant battle to get us, his beloved children and wife, out of the clutches of communism following the Soviet invasion of our beloved land, and into the country that he wanted more than anything to provide us a life in. I knew this story so well I could recite it at the mere whisper of his name, and expound at length on his virtues and sacrifices; for his beloved country, for his beloved family.
The parts I left out of the story, the human bits, are as important a contributor to the true nature of his hero-status as his me-created perfection. He was the first man of many, to hit me and tell me he loves me in the same moment. He did not do this because he was evil, he did it because that is how children were disciplined; it is what he learned in the environment and culture he grew up in. He was unfaithful to his beloved wife, my beloved mother, and considered somewhat of a Casanova. He was a catch: he had one of the few motorcycles in the country at the time, and a full set of leathers, a rebel with a chip on his shoulder, but he had a cause. He had attitude and the inimitable grin, wit and charm of Rhett Butler, and all the girls wanted him. My mother got him, and forgave him, over and over, to keep him. She had endless discord and conflict with her beloved mother because of him. He was not only imprisoned for voicing his political beliefs against the status quo, he was imprisoned for shooting a law officer. I tell you all of this not to be-smudge his memory; I tell you this to illustrate the full context of his humanity, he was so imperfect, so human, but still a hero not despite it, but because of it.
He worked very hard to redeem himself when he brought us here, to make it right, to atone, to take responsibility. I tell you this because we all have a dark side, a side that requires constant work and effort to keep in check, to make certain that it is not given more priority than the hero in all of us. The side that makes poor decisions based on fear rather than the belief that we will get what we need if we act accordingly; the side which is driven by the outside, all the world’s influences, rather than the inside, the core of our humanness, our hearts and souls. The side of us that ignores our innate intuition, even when the warning bells scream like the sirens in a big city. The hero in all of us, the piece that knows love and abuse cannot co-exist in the same environment, the piece that informs every act of kindness and compassion we have ever given freely because that is what gives us the most true happiness. The piece that would die for the people we love, and sometimes for those we don’t even know but feel true human compassion for, that piece, is the one we must nurture, nourish, and encourage to grow and empower.
I could not see my father, Tomaš Mrnka, as the authentic hero he was and is, until I could see the full extent of his humanity, without judgment, or the childish notions I carried about the perfection of a hero. I tell you this story because I have experience with imperfection and humanity, and because I miss my hero today.
Dad, I cannot help but believe that you were there when recently, I visited the places I have some of my strongest and fondest memories of you from, Karlovy Vary, Boży Dar, on the journey of a lifetime with your widow, my mother, and my son, your grandson Thomas. We told him stories about you that he has likely heard a thousand times before, but it was different, for you had walked these streets that we were walking, you held my mother’s hand there, you held mine. You came back to life for me in moments of memory so vivid that they caught my breath, and we all got to know you, and ourselves, a little better than we did in the days, the moments prior.
Rest in peace my beloved dad, and know that the lessons of your life, your imperfect humanity, and your true heroism, have watched over me, followed me, taught me, led me, sometimes astray, but always back, to the true hero in me. 43 years ago on July 7th, my life and world changed in a way that I spent too many years trying to numb, to feel, to figure out, to forget, to remember; and 43 years later I come full circle to face my own imperfection and humanity, once again.
Thank you dad for the continuing lessons. You did well; and although my dark side comes out to play and wreak havoc in my heart and life periodically, I believe that my hero always triumphs in the end. I miss your person every day, but I feel your presence, every second.
Always yours, with all the humanity I have,
(edited from original written July 05, 2012)
~M. Valedictorian Speech, SJ, 2002
Image: Rex King
Dear Sunny, SunnyBoyManChild, Babycakes, number one and original MarsupialBaby, yes you, my heart and soul, my son, Thomas George Raphael Turjancik:
I woke up in Ruswil, Switzerland, at 5:00 a.m. on this day 23 years ago, and said to your dad: “George, wake up, our son just made me wet the bed.” Your dad, whom you will finally see/meet again for the first time in 20 years, a few short weeks from now, was ‘tired’ from our wedding only two days earlier, rolled over and said: “you’re funny, go back to sleep.” At that point, my not-so-inner-mama-bear came out and told him to get the fuck up, we are having Baby-Thomas today! He got up.
We drove to the neighbouring town of Wolhusen, for Ruswil was too small for its own hospital, and it turned out that March 22nd 1991 was a busy day for their tiny maternity ward. In a normal week they have one maybe two babies make their planet earth appearance. On this day however, there were three of you at once, and all three with mothers in varying stages and severity of real and perceived emotional and physical distress. It was a bit of a cluster-fuck.
The one doctor on duty was running back and forth between the three of us, as were the midwife and a couple of nurses, and they were all very relieved when I finally said yes to the laughing gas. That is, until they saw just how happy it made me. I had said no to pain-killing drugs, odd when you consider the dope-induced crash and burn we experienced later on, but at the time, I wanted to feel everything about you, your arrival in my life. I was so giddy that it got hard to push, and the doctor (a male) yelled at me and said “come on! haven’t you ever done this before”? I responded, not so gently with “NO, have you asshole”?!
Your father had had a traumatic experience at the birth of your half-brother Roman, so he kinda gave up on us when it got real. It was a bit of foreshadowing, no? Not a dig at him, not at all, just my reality, and (y)ours I think. Not everyone can stomach reality and truth the way you and I have all these years. But I digress. So, at 1:29 p.m., that time zone, that place, in that moment, you made your début, and my life changed, forever. It changed in a way that is so profound, so beyond my capacity to articulate, well, in these or any other pages, I have written, or will write in the future.
I have often thought about that moment when I realized I was in it alone, as the moment our bond became absolutely bullet proof, for life, no matter what. And so it has been. Through the good, through the bad, through the very very ugly, and painfully, through the indifferent (or ignorant) attitudes of those, whom to this day, feel it is their job to judge and critique, me, and Universe save them from my motherly-wrath, you.
And just as you know and accept my humanity, I am not under any illusion that you are a perfect human, or child, but you are the perfect human-child for me, and truly, had I had the option of choosing, I would have chosen you. Why? Well I am so very glad you asked!
Why do I love thee Thomas? Let us count the ways:
<3 I love you because you have given meaning and purpose to a soul broken, too often, by the cruelties of those with no connection to self, no conscience, no heart.
<3 I love you because no matter what ‘they’ say, you saved my life when I did not believe it was worth saving, but you were/are.
<3 I love you because like your birth, relatively short and painless in the grand scheme of things, parenting you has been a gift and the singular greatest blessing and experience of my life.
<3 I love you because you shine Thomas, I do not wish to set you up for a fall by placing you on a pedestal; but you shine! I knew at 1:29 p.m. on March 22nd, 1991, in that little Swiss hospital, I know it now, and everyone who takes even a second to talk to you knows it, they tell me, all the time.
<3 I love you because you have a deep and profound understanding of my humanity, my imperfection as a human, as a parent, as a ‘helper,’ and you are the only human on the planet who loves me not despite it, but because of it, unconditionally, always; In the same manner that I know and love you, and your perfectly-imperfect humanity.
<3 I love you because you never made me park around the corner to drop you off at school, you always thought I was a cool mom; I imagine a foul mouth and tattoos help with that, but hey, I’ll take it
<3 I love you because you never stopped skipping across parking lots with me, hand in hand, or ‘walking THIS way,’ in grocery stores.
<3 I love you because even when you said that Sunny, SunnyBoy, Number one Marsupial, and ManChild were one thing, but BabyCakes quite another, you never got pissy with me for all the crazy nicknames I have for you. I do, by the way, know that your name is Thomas ;)
<3 I love you because despite, or because of, my fairly strong beliefs about the world and resulting influence in your life, on your beliefs, you have managed to find your own truths, and never been afraid to debate these things with me. I will high-five self for teaching you how to think, not what to think.
<3 I love you because despite me, and my influence, you have become the deeply thoughtful and kind human that you are.
<3 I love you because you really and truly are, the Sun that brightens my worst days, the Shine that makes the sunny ones even brighter, my one and only, always unconditional cheerleader, my one and only child, the best one for me, by far.
Don’t let the darkness in the world make you jaded and broken, the way I was for too many years Sunny, focus on what is good and on doing good, surround yourself with others who are good, and do good. The other is simply too painful, and such a horrible waste of time and breath. Such a horrible waste of time for your compassionate soul.
These past 4 years, including your 22nd, have been fraught with challenge upon challenge, and much loss and pain for both of us, individually and collectively, yet we have proven to one another, and the ever hovering detractors, over and over again, what I have said here: our bond is bullet proof. For we have both taken some shrapnel, at times from one another, only to come out stronger, than ever before, our family of two.
I love you Thomas with something so fierce that it defies mere words.
Always, with everything I have, got your back! No matter what!
All my love, and then some,
the hand i used to hold…
when the knife went in my heart it was not the blade that tore it open – it was seeing your hand grasping the hilt… it was the nonchalance of your words… the indifference in your demeanour… as though you forgot, child! Yours, was the hand i used to hold…
October 08, 2012
It was Thanksgiving Dinner, 2012; a tradition which is not normally celebrated where my people and I hail from, but randomly upheld in our family, in an effort to try and bring our motley and far-flung peeps together. Seeing my one and only child for more meaningful interaction than what had become what I call ‘drive-by-huggings,’ was/is generally, my primary motivation for attending/putting on such a gig. This particular dinner was of great import to me. I had felt for some time, that my relationship with this, my favourite human, was devolving into something I was painfully uncomfortable with, and very, very sad about. So, when he came to this dinner at my mother’s home, and announced a few moments later that he would not be staying, with little explanation, I expressed my hurt and, really, more than anything, bewilderment, in the words above. Secretly, silently, at first… for I knew that something dire had occurred somewhere in his life to bring about this uncharacteristic behaviour, and that he would tell me when it felt safe for him to do so, but the hurt was acute, none-the-less, and I had to let it out, before it consumed me…
May 11, 2020
8 years and as many lives later, we are here again, because of an other’s influence and actions… I am more bewildered than ever, that we have landed, here.