I met my middle daughter at a party. Yes, darlings there was a time I was a sociable woman. It was summertime and the party was only a block away from my house in a neighbor's big back yard. One of my modeling friends and I walked over and within seconds of walking into the yard, I saw a young woman sitting at a table with a group of other lovely people, m0stly male. She and I made eye contact and I knew I liked her. I called out "Hello daughter, my Persian Princess." She answered, "Hi Mom." And that was it. We were instantly related. Later in the evening I went over to her table and met my new daughter who is not Persian, but Palestinian. I hugged her and have never smelled anyone who smelled better. We introduced ourselves and she introduced me to the crowd of gorgeous young men at her table. I gave her my phone number. She gave me hers.
I continued to see her at parties the rest of that summer. By the end of the sumer we had talked enough for me to know that she was a student with a job at the U. None of the rest of her family lived in Utah. I know I asked her "Why Utah?" but I can't remember the answer to that question. She has an older brother who lives in the Eastern US--maybe Michigan or Illinois, and two sisters in the Middle East. Her real mother and father live in Jordan.
She came to parties at my house, and always brought interesting men. She seemed to have a posse of great looking very fun gay men--mostly North African or Lebanese. All the people I met through her were multi-lingual, multi-cultural and charming. As I grew more and more reclusive over the years (bipolar disorder gets worse as you get older) she brought the party to me. And then I saw less and less of her.
One day the doorbell rang and when I answered the door, there stood a woman who looked familiar standing with two men I knew through my daughter. When the woman spoke I realized it was my daughter. The changes in her appearance were the result of Cushing's Disease. I knew nothing about Cushing's Disease, but over the years of her life with Cushing's Disease have come to know a great deal about it. She was getting ready for her first surgery at the Mayo Clinic at that time.
The next time I saw her she showed me her scars and she looked like someone who'd had open heart surgery and a hysterectomy or appendectomy or a C Section. The scars started at the base of her neck and ended at her pelvic girdle. I have never seen scars like that. But she was beginning to look like herself again. The physical beauty was returning. She was now taking all the drugs her missing endocrine system was supposed to produce if working properly.
I was still modeling throughout this time. Tom and I were still friendly, though he was living in Costa Rica. I was living alone in the big house and was renting the cottage to a female friend. One day I got a call from my daughter asking me if she could rent my spare room. I said, "Of course." She insisted on paying rent, and for almost a year we lived together. She has always been more sociable than I, so we had a few parties, but I would often hang out in my rooms reading. It was one of the times in the cycles of my illness that I was teetering on the brink of a big depression. So when not actually working, I read. My daughter comes from a culture where family members have roles that they perform seamlessly as is their duty. I lived with a daughter dealing with a life-threatening illness who went to school, worked, had a social life, cooked and cleaned, while I worked once or twice a week and read. I like it cool in the house and she was always cold. I lived with a dog and a cat in the house and she comes from a culture where animals are not invited into the house and especially not to sleep with you on your bed. One day she came home especially tired and hungry and I was lying in bed reading. The house was not spotless and nothing was in the oven. It is possible to leave ones culture behind, to liberate oneself from the strictures of a lifetime of one's families expectations. Like I said, I'm a mother who neither expects nor responds to strictures of duty or obligation. If asked, I will probably say yes, and I will probably haul my ass out of bed and comply. But without the request, I will not realize that I'm not living up to your expectations. I'm not the world's best mother, but I will never invade your life. If you ask for something and it is within my power to give it to you, I will. It's wasn't long before she moved into an apartment.
Over the years I have met her real parents many times. I adore them. I feel related to them. The call me her American Mom. She calls me Mom. Sometimes we go years and do not talk, but if she calls me and wants anything I'm capable of providing, I comply, happily. One day she called and told me she was getting married, and wanted to have her wedding at my house. I asked when, and she said in a date not far off in February. That is the ugliest time of the year here and I have a lovely big yard. I suggested May. She said, "No, the date is set, and everyone is coming for February." Fine. Done.
By this time my youngest daughter, Ms M is living with me. So we grew excited about having a traditional Palestinian wedding in my house. My middle daughter's best friend was taking care of the planning. All I had to do was provide the location. Middle daughter had family coming from all over. It was very exciting. But I had not met the groom. I met him once before the wedding, briefly, and was very surprised by her choice. He was a man from a Mormon background who had left the Mormon Church when he was in his late twenties. His parents were assisting with the preparation. This is all I knew of the groom: His late rejection of his religious heritage, his interest in the Middle East, his travels there, his leaning of Arabic, and last, but not least he was an artist--he does metal sculpture and has a studio. I asked my daughter if he made a living as an artist and was told he supplemented his income by doing construction work. If she loved him, who am I to tell her I have misgivings? I'm her American Mom. Maybe I should have told her, but the wedding preparations were in full swing. It's too late to throw cold water on her happiness. Her real parents have met him and haven't objected, so who am I to object?
We had live music. We had a Palestinian religious leader called a Sheikh. We had much ululation and dancing. The food was great. The bride was gorgeous in a traditional Western style wedding dress. The groom wore a kilt and played bagpipes. It was gorgeous and very moving.
Everyone smokes in Palestinian culture, so the men stood outside into the night in the middle of my Slat Lake neighborhood and smoked, laughed, and gossiped in Arabic. The women smoked in the house. One of the striking things about Palestinian women is their style and beauty. They go all out--hair, make-up, jewelry and gorgeous clothes. The men wear suits and ties and nice shoes. They all have lovely manners and are charming. They know how to party.
To be continued...
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