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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A Life That Will Not Be Silent

My mom with our dog Ranger. 
Tomorrow, April 7th, is the two year anniversary of my mom's death. By the time I post this, it will
probably be the anniversary. It is also the birthday of my husband's mother, who passed away 12 years ago, when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter. Crossing the Ben Franklin Bridge this evening, over the Delaware River that separates Philadelphia from my home in New Jersey, with my 5-year-old son in the back, chatting away, I thought about that morning two years ago when my dad called me. "Mom had a difficult night," he said, "You should probably come." I was on the bridge. It seems a fitting metaphor for my life, being on a bridge at that moment. I was crossing over -- life before, with my mom, and life after. I know my husband feels the same about his life, before and after.

My mom was many things to me, most of which cannot be summed up in words. What she was to this community, of course, was "an adult adoptee advocating for her rights." Before she died from malignant melanoma at the age of 63, she had fought for nearly 15 years for justice and truth in the world of adoption. To be honest, this was only a small part of what she was to me, but it was an important part. She asked me if I would consider continuing her blog after she died, "only once a month or so, because I know how busy you are." I said I would. I am so grateful I did, because by writing here I have been introduced to many people of great integrity. I have also learned a lot. "Jenn, you wouldn't believe some of the stuff that goes on in adoption," my mom told me. She was right. In my two years of writing, I have discovered everything from simple ignorance to big-time greed and corruption, but I have also rediscovered the beauty of truth in the face of these things. Truth is a gem. Those who work to find it, will.

Berta Cáceres, mother and activist. 
It felt fitting then, that today on the front page of the Spanish newspaper El País (which I read because of my job as a Spanish teacher) there was an essay, La vida que no calla (Life That Will Not Be Silenced), by Olivia, Berta, Laura, and Salvador Cáceres. They are the children of Berta Cáceres, who was killed last month in Honduras. (Click here to read more: New Yorker article on Berta Cáceres). She was an internationally known environmental and human rights activist, much more famous than my mom, of course, but her children's words spoke for how I feel about my mom, about Berta, about anyone who speaks for truth. (The entire article can be found here: El País article on Berta Cáceres). I was especially moved by the last paragraph:


"El dolor no nos paraliza, no nos impide soñar, pero se volverá insoportable si el mundo calla y olvida a la guardiana de los ríos, a la cuidadora de la vida, a la que también nos cargó en el vientre, a nuestra madre, Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores."

The pain does not paralyze us, does not keep us from dreaming, but it will become unbearable if the world is quiet and forgets the guardian of the rivers, the keeper of life, she who also carried us in her womb, our mother, Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores. 

Tomorrow, the anniversary of the passing of my mom, and also the birthday of my husband's mother, I will not forget, I will remember, the beauty of the truth, the beauty of all moms, and especially mine, Susan Thomson Perry. 

10 comments:

  1. Jenn, Thank-you for keeping your mother's legacy alive here. And condolences for you on this two year anniversary of her passing. It is hard to believe it has been that that long. Sincerely, Karen Caffrey

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    1. Thank you Karen. Yes, it both feels like a long time and no time at all. I am glad to be able to write here. Thank you again - Jenn

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  2. There is so much that conspires to silence us, every day and from multiple sources. You have chosen to continue your mother's legacy of telling the truth in spite of that. Thank you always and sending you thoughts on this difficult anniversary.

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    1. Yes, I agree. Are you an adoptee? It continues to amaze me how much my mom was silenced without even knowing it (even to herself). It took 47 years and a major medical crisis for her to realize what SHE truly needed and wanted, and then it took a lot of bravery after that to fight for what she needed despite those forces conspiring to silence her. Thank you for writing and for your kind thoughts. Best, Jenn

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  3. Such a beautiful tribute to your Mother. Thank you for keeping her voice alive.

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  4. What a lovely tribute to two beautiful and brave women, your Mom and Berta. I met your mom a few times at hearings, she was such a fine woman. On the environmental front, check out thecostofthepipeline.com about opposition to the Penn East Pipeline, a natural gas pipeline that will endanger and disrupt parts of PA and NJ, particularly Lambertville and surrounding areas. My son is involved in fighting it. He is another hero going up against the system.

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  5. As a former adoption educator (mostly for adoptive parents to recognize the unique needs of their children), I do not recognize your mother's picture. Please let me know her name. (I do recognize "Maryanne" who responded. And I know Pam, Betsie Norris, and many others fighting the fight that your mom and now you have undertaken. Thank you very much! I, too, have recently written a piece about my mother, who was not an adoptee nor am I. But she was grandmother of my children, both adopted and both reunited with their birth parents. I applaud you for your cause! Alyce

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    1. Thank you Alyce. My mom was Susan Perry. She became involved because of Pam, who of course has been involved for so long now. At first my mom mostly wrote, but then she also started to testify and meet with legislators, and then she started this blog. I admire Pam and those like her so much. Thanks for writing and I will look for your piece on your mother! Best, Jenn

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