Blog Archive

Blog Archive – November, 2012

While mothers in Gaza and Syria bury their sons…

November 23, 2012

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

Here on America’s Thanksgiving weekend, I accompany a mother as she arranges final rites for her only son Robert. Because I knew Robert and his mom, I’ve been drawn into the family during his final days and hours, with his last feebly spoken words to us, decisions with medics on his transfer to the hospice, searching his mobile phone to locate associates we never met, contacting distant family.

What stands out in this otherwise sad and heavy experience is the support system available to his mother; she’s 86 and a widow with no family nearby.

Having recently returned from Asia, I remember how friends there express pity and disdain for what they understand as an impoverished family structure in the West. “There’s no one to look after you”, they charge. “You’ve no help at times of need.” This is true only to a limited degree. Anyway I wonder if the West can match the misery I see so many Asian daughters-in-law experience (only one of many ills I see in that ‘glorified’ extended family-- Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian).

Reviewing recent election statistics, I am reminded that a startling 28% of adult Americans live alone. (In Scandinavian countries, it’s 45%.) But this doesn’t mean Americans and Europeans endure their personal crises alone. Today, what I am witnessing around the death of Robert is testimony to this. Pauline, the grieving mother who I’ve been with this week, is a member of a neighborhood circle of 8 women. These friends range in age from 72 to 90; some live alone; some have children; some have salaried jobs while others are retired. They meet regularly, it seems, to celebrate birthdays and for holiday celebrations; they phone each other to check on needs; they listen to each other, advise each other, and they have fun together too. I met most of them in recent days, gathering around Pauline after they learned her son was failing. Distant relatives will be flying in from California, Georgia and elsewhere for the funeral but Pauline’s friends are here at the hardest moments and will be here after the relatives return to their homes.

Back to our Gaza and Syrian mothers: their sons and daughters die as martyrs. Most of us do not understand that experience, deaths which the entire nation mourns and also celebrates. Meanwhile so many of these war mothers are deprived of the wide possibilities women could have, in order to birth and nurture their young ones-- their duty for the revolution.  

[ While mothers in Gaza and Syria bury their sons… ]


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