Macaroni Necklace (thoughts of my momma.)
When I was younger, after I introduced myself, I would have to explain how to say my name and what it means. I’m a smart-ass sometimes and this question maybe grew tiresome, or game-worthy, or poetic depending on which lens I view it from. It is strangely perfect, that my name is ZALMAN, that my mother’s name, Alma (which means ‘soul’ in Spanish) connects the first and last letters of my name. It is fitting, also, that my name translates to “man of peace” and that my mother is the soul within my name. But this is not about me.
My mother, Alma was a free spirit, and loved the desert. Momma was a righteous, direct and vocal critic of the human social condition. Inspired by plants and birds, enlivened by free-flowing waters and the natural rhythms of our shared world. She organized and fed groups around social issues, a defender of peace, labor and human rights and natural beauty. Alma was a passionate, nurturing cook, an early vegetarian (this is before the popularity of Veggie Burgers), and a definite Foodie- always tasting things and exploring foods.
I grew up an Only Child with a Single Mom, eating cookies (I love cookies) at Cruise Missile protests and peace marches. Full-Moon parties and Solar Potlucks, naked hikes in Sabino Canyon… Passover Seders were often written from the perspective of the feminine aspect of the Deity (Shetichnaya instead of Adonai). There was an Orange on the Seder Plate. This was home to my childhood. It was heady and intellectual, artistic and rukus, righteous and real, human.
At the time, it may have seemed contrary to what the popular culture was doing (I loved my swatch, my thrift-shop polo shirt, my Alpha-Numeric pager, my first portable CD player…). I was lucky, my childhood was filled with love and passionate ideas, and loads of authentic, creative and cantankerous characters passing through.
My mother passed last October (cancer). I was fortunate to be there, by her side with friends and family for the last ten days as she transitioned. If you have been through it, you know it is indescribable. Of all my wishes, my utmost is more time with her. As a secondary, I will settle for being a good hearted representative in my community, like my momma was. I am thankful for the time we did have, I am profoundly blessed to have received so much love.
Here is a link to her memorial, a celebration of her life: