Saturday, August 9, 2014

Dedicated to My Mom, Rosemary Copp, My Motivation & Inspiration

Dear Readers,

I’ve been keeping you regularly updated on my Mexico memoir progress, starting last December, upon successful completion of the Kickstarter campaign. It's been exciting to share book excerpts, get your feedback, and gain encouragement to forge ahead on the creative journey.

Unfortunately this update is not quite as bright. Sadly, I report the passing of my mother, Rosemary Copp, on Thursday morning June 26th. Cancer had been looming for over a year. In fact I’d just returned from Mexico, barely settling in to DC life last April 2013, when I got the call. Mom was being rushed into emergency surgery.

Mom fought a good fight with an arsenal of chemo and a lot of courage. She was rewarded with an almost-normal year, traveling, visiting friends and family, keeping up with politics and the stock market, enjoying life, between treatments. And, as responsible as she was, getting her affairs in order. 

But on Mother’s Day, she took a turn for the worse. The treatments had worn-off and the cancer was spreading with a vengeance. We shifted Mom into hospice care and took-on the care-giving. It was only 12 days, but seemed like we lived another lifetime before she passed peacefully at her home in Peoria, IL with her three children by her side.

My mom was a great supporter of my creative life. She managed to let go little by little over the years, encouraging me to travel where life's road was taking me, reserving judgment, though not ample motherly concern.
Mom and Me - Pre-Peace Corps Garage Sale

‘Maybe it’s time to come home,’ she told me often, as I regaled her with stories of adventure and woe over Skype from Mexico. She was scared for me; but she knew that I couldn’t abandon the cause. I had something new and important to learn from my Peace Corps experience. And mom would never get in the way of learning.

I did complete my service, landing back on US soil after a harrowing bus ride from Rioverde across the border; and mom was there in Austin, TX to meet me. She hugged me and would not let go; her relief was palpable. I was in one piece. We celebrated with a bottle of mescal I’d procured in Oaxaca, which had remained in one piece too!

When I announced I was embarking on this Kickstarter campaign to turn all my Mexico stories into a published book, that got her shaking her head once again in joyful disbelief. 

'Kick what?' she questioned, then when right online to research this new technological, entrepreneurial wonder. And she got behind me once again, as my biggest funder and moral supporter, sharing the link with her friends, and boosting me closer to my mark at the most crucial time in the campaign.

As we sat quietly in her bedroom during those last 12 days together, classical music playing in the background, I shared with Mom my progress, reading aloud one of the latest excerpts.

It’s mother’s day. My mom is far from me; but Chuya has invited me to San Miguel de las Flores for a celebration at the school with Lupita and the other village children. Lupita is tiny but strong. She easily wins the rice sack race and, glowing, brings her mother the prize. After the games we enjoy a special pizza lunch on the playground picnic tables. Each child gives their mother a handmade tissue flower to wear on her shirt. Then we walk Lupita, hand in hand, down the baked mud road to their casa.

I’m mildly surprised. Their home is dirt floor dwelling, bare of furniture and appliances. Chuya cooks on a wood stove under a palm awning; and she gets the fire going as soon as we arrive. Chickens peck around the dirt yard. The garden blooms with fruit trees and chile plants and nubby nopal. They have a milpa, a family farm plot, at the far end of the village, where they grow corn and peanuts, she tells me. She raises a bunch over her head, leafy topped and a muddy cluster of peanuts dangles.

‘Son semillas?’ they are seeds, I marvel, feeling embarrassed as the words come out.

Chuya chuckles at me. She can’t imagine my life either.

I sense she wants more. Or maybe it’s me wanting that for her. She has three sweet children, two boys and a girl; but they eat food out of bags, Bimbo and Frito Lay, and throw their trash on the ground. Her senor is only half there; the other half he’s on the other side doing construction or picking crops. When he returns home they are strangers.

He tries to make himself useful, she says as she rolls her eyes. Today he’s hanging laundry on the line. He greets me with a respectful handshake; a few minutes later he hops on his horse and rides out of site.

Chuya tells me he was a drunk for a while; after his father died it was very bad. Now he’s okay. But he’s barely there: he works the fields, she tends to the ninos and on the side makes her palm jewelry. She developed the skill while he was away; and she's very proud of it. 

She shows me the fans of palm, brightly died, hanging from a line, waiting to be weaved into jewelery creations....

By the time I finished reading, I worried Mom was bored to sleep. Her eyes were closed, the fan whirred, her beautiful long fingers were clasped across her chest which rose and fell with her breath.

Then suddenly her strong voice punctuated the silence: ‘I feel like I’m there with you,’ she said. ‘What a tough life in those villages.’ Her blue-gray eyes popped open and gazed over at me. ‘If you just keep going like that, Anne, you’ll have the book. But not too many pages, dear,’ she cautioned. ‘People don’t read anymore. That twitter thing, you know.’

She certainly wasn’t referring to herself. Her bedside table held a stack of eight books, and her TV stand another 10, and there were book collections in every room in the house – histories, biographies, books of poetry. But she’d watched the devolution over the years – participated in the technology revolution and praised it, but also acknowledged its ills.

I’d hoped to have my Mexico memoir done and dedicated to Mom before she’d passed. If I allow it, I can feel awfully sad that I didn’t. But instead I will allow Mom to be my inspiration to finish what I started and make her proud.

Readers, yes, the due dates have shifted a bit. But I remain committed to you and this book.

Sinceramente, Anne