Sep 1, 2011

The Crying Game

Rosaline Lieberman Odessey

Ordinarily, listening to Terry Gross on NPR does not make me pull my car to the side of the road, but today was different.

Gross was interviewing Ruth Reichl (rebroadcast) a week after Gourmet Magazine closed its doors.  Reichl had recently published her book, Not Becoming My Mother: and Other Things She Taught Me Along the Way.

Reichl's book was written upon discovery of letters and journals after her mother's death.  This is an experience many of us have had.  For Reichl it was a "revelation."  What is of interest here is not revelation. 

Gross framed the conversation around one of the quotes in the book from Reichl's mother:

"I finally got my own mother out of my head. 
After 25 years, why am I still letting her tell me what to do?"

In a very neat way, Gross segues to universal aspect of the mother-daughter relationship.  She states the following: "It's impossible to see your mother cry without being overwhelmed with sadness yourself.  If your mother is crying, you are too."

And that is what stopped me in my tracks.  I started remembering the very rare instances when I had seen my own mother cry.  I could only remember two: one, the occasion of her mother's death and the other, her brother's death.

This little aside by Terry Gross seemed so important to me.  The emotional connection between mother and daughter, no matter how acrimonious or distant, is still so strong;  one person's tears become another's.

It's a pretty good day when listening to the radio can produce a "revelation."

"I could feel the tears brimming
and sloshing in me like water in a glass that is
unsteady and too full."  Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar


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