About Genevieve

My mother often says "Where did you learn that? You certainly didn't get it from me." Her influence on me is, of course, profound. It seems impossible that everything I know did not come directly from her.

My mother's most significant contributions to me were an inconsistently administered benign neglect and her example, which proved that whatever she does works for me only if I do it some other way. That was a problem. From her point of view, Genevieve's way was The Only Way. Woe to the child who recognized an alternative and attempted to implement it. There are substantial differences in our approaches to life. It has been tricky for me to express my own; Genevieve looms large in my mind even now, when I am long self-sufficient.

The picture in my head of proper filial behavior says that a daughter must forgive her mother's human failings and joyfully devote compassion and comfort during the frailty of old age. Yet I was impatient with Genevieve. I am not a saint, although I tried to be and for a time even pulled it off. With growing intensity, however, my child's need to be free begged for expression, only to be throttled when another crisis in my mother's stormy life demanded a solution.

Nevertheless, Gen faced big challenges in her life. She deserves credit for surviving and for the survival of her children.

If I cannot sustain my own sainthood, I can at least convey my mother's weird, interesting, and funny story. Genevieve gave me life, and it is a good life, too. It is a gift more infinite than either of us could ever understand and one deserving of my gratitude. I am grateful to Genevieve for giving me the spectacular adventure of living.