Sunday, May 11, 2014

Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Hippie (Mama)

Note: This was first published in the May 7, 2014 edition of The Blackshear Times.

Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned from a Hippie (Mama)

Sometimes it takes a while to appreciate what you have. Years maybe. When I was a little girl growing up in Blackshear, it wasn’t cool to have a hippie mama. Well, it wasn’t cool to me. Ask Angela Manders or Richard Proctor and they would say she was the coolest mom ever. But being highly introverted tends to make a young child want to just blend in and not be noticed. In those days, blending in could only be accomplished with a two parent home in a ranch style house and church on Sunday.  Parent #2 left prior to the move to Blackshear, however. And of the five homes where I resided during those years, the only ranch style was when I moved in with the grandparents. Church on Sunday with Mama was typically on holidays.

Now, one year older than she was when she left this earth, I am proud of my hippie mama. Proud that she and my daddy drove to Woodstock in a VW bug.
Proud to have experienced a compost garden. Proud to say my mama owned a pair of patch pants. Proud to have known the value of vitamins and healthy eating decades before Dr. Oz was ever discovered. But most of all, proud of what she instilled in me.

My hippie mama taught me that God could be found outside of the church walls. She taught me about Him when we stopped by the county dumpsters to feed the stray cats on the way home from the grocery store. She showed me His majesty in the Blue Ridge Mountains and the ocean that she so loved. She revealed His love when she sang “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight.”

My hippie mama taught me that obstacles are meant to be overcome. Being a
toddler with polio made for quite a determined female. She rode bikes she was never supposed to be able to pedal. She reinvented herself professionally over and over again, despite bouts with the demons of alcoholism.

My hippie mama taught me that music releases emotion. Although the only musical gene I inherited was the Rolling Stones one, the years listening to her play piano and guitar, sing under the stars, and continuously spin vinyl gave me a necessary understanding of the passion so deeply rooted in my boys.

My hippie mama taught me to question everything. Life seems much simpler for those who just accept the ways of the world. But she challenged my thinking. In doing so, she prepared me to understand the children I would raise and to be able to encourage my boys to follow their passions rather than society’s narrow expectations.

My hippie mama taught me to accept people for who they are. She could have a deep conversation with the homeless; eat lunch in a segregated small town with her black friend; and rub elbows with the prestigious at their Sea Island events. She valued all people. She didn’t participate in the silent injustices of humanity.

Although I’m still not ready to burn my bras, I realize everything I needed to know, I learned from my hippie mama.

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