Our Quiet Hero – in Memory of Shelley Adler

A poem of my mother’s:

I would pass quickly into nothingness.
God does not need my dust
to fertilize His flowers
and I prefer not to feed His worms.
I would lose my ashes as a summer day
tossed with gentle breezes
to some warm valley where they might stay
harmlessly enough in trees or stream
noticed and as quickly then not seen.
only these black flowers can I leave,
but if you would, remember me:
glad for that briefest time that was my life
when I was daughter, mother, sister, wife.

I said goodbye to my mother’s physical form this week. She passed a few days ago, on my son’s 11th birthday, forever creating another unforgettable link to my children. I trust that once I’m beyond my current barely manageable level of pain and sadness, I will see this connection and honor it as a celebration of life’s unplanned magical events. I mean, really, what are the odds that Mama would pass on my child’s birthday?: the answer… long! On the cross country flight home from LA to NY I wondered what kind of tribute I could give my mother, an incredible woman who passed on countless traditions and ways of being to me. Our shared history has shaped the woman I am and it’s only fitting that as has her journey into another realm begins, I remember her earth plane accomplishments.

Let’s begin with this: Mama was a published poet and writer, a dreamer, a dedicated mother and partner, and one of the most authentic souls anyone who knew her had ever come across.

For those of you who don’t know, my Mama came out when I was 12, and though her life wasn’t always easy, and often it was difficult, Mama was a true pioneer, even though she never saw herself in that light. Mama didn’t want the spotlight, but somehow, at least for all of us in her circle, she was our star, our beacon, our rock. It was with quiet strength, dignity and an internal fortitude unmatched and unmitigated that Mama led her life.

And although she often felt there were those who would not understand who she was or how she chose to live her life, my answer is simple. There are those of us who do understand – and always have.

As someone very wise and brave once said:

“I may be a good person or bad, a hero or a coward. But I am who I say I am. I am whatever name I choose to give myself. I have the right to exist without fear of them. They may scorn me or hate me. They cannot legally hurt me.

If they deny I exist, they lie. I do not have to lie. I am a lesbian. I do exist.”

May my Mama, Shelley Adler’s memory eternally be for a blessing.

18 Responses to Our Quiet Hero – in Memory of Shelley Adler
  1. Laura
    February 3, 2014 | 9:04 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your mother’s words. They are timeless, still relevant, and powerful. Peace to you and your family.

    • Diva-Mama
      February 4, 2014 | 1:57 pm

      Gratefully accepted condolences Laura. Thank you for your graciousness.

  2. Rachel Khazanovich
    February 3, 2014 | 9:05 pm

    Although not as hard as Shelley’s struggles I too grappled with my my self identity for I felt strange around girls and boys my own age until I was out of high school. I have Aspergers which most definitely took a toll. I felt like an outsider at the dinning room table each time we had a meal at Ken and Yetta’s house. I had no idea how to start talking nor what to say that would be appropriate. There was a period of time in middle school that I became somewhat more quiet at meals than not. I was so scared to say something wrong and to upset other people….. I became far more confidant in high school and even then it was hard. I met my husband Zak on Facebook in August of 2011 and that’s when I began to feel that I was going to have a good life and that we would make life better for each other and that been the truth thus far.

    Zak really loves me sooooooo much. And I him. And I never really knew if I was straight or not? Now I know, but it took me a while to find out because I never really found any one attractive until Zak.

    I loved Shelley even though I only met her once – she still made a lasting impression on me.

    I too exist!

    • Diva-Mama
      February 4, 2014 | 1:56 pm

      “I too exist!”

      Yes, you do Rachel! Yes you do.

  3. Debra Goodman
    February 3, 2014 | 9:35 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this poem and the article by your mama, my cousin Shelley. This is why I said she was a trailblazer. She endured and she spoke up so we can dare to name ourselves, be ourselves, and love without fear.

    • Diva-Mama
      February 4, 2014 | 1:55 pm

      If Mama was happy for anything, it was finally and simply – to just be herself. And if I know anything, it’s love acts like love, and that fear has no place in such an equation.

  4. Gilly Rosenthol
    February 4, 2014 | 9:18 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m glad to know a little of her life after our paths diverged, and I’m so glad that she found the strength to come out and live a truthful life — I hope she found the love and support she deserved. And as a bi woman in the Jewish community myself, I thank and honor her for her part in making the path easier for those of us to follow.

    • Diva-Mama
      February 4, 2014 | 1:53 pm

      Too kind Gilly. She did find exactly that. I know she is observing, happy and proud that she could do something that would allow others to feel comfortable in their own skin as well. It’s a long journey for far too many, and some never reach that peaceful destination.

  5. Karen Goodman
    February 4, 2014 | 12:15 pm

    Shira: what a beautiful tribute to your mother you’ve arranged here, sharing her words with us in the form of her graceful parting poem and the powerful article she wrote precisely three decades ago about her struggle to be who she was. Thank you for bringing her closer to us.

    • Diva-Mama
      February 4, 2014 | 1:51 pm

      Dear Karen,

      Thank you for the lovely comment. It was an honor to let Mama quietly bask in a little bit of the light she gave to others – especially those who love her and were closest to her.

  6. Yetta
    February 4, 2014 | 5:22 pm

    Thank you, Shira for sharing your mother’s questions, her wonderings, her worries and her heroic decisions as she came to discover herself.

    Her journey was a sad one that we must all contemplate deeply and thoughtfully as we consider our own sad journies. How do I pay forward to honor what I have learned and taken away from Shelley’s bravery and from her hurt? How do I work to make sure that this world is a place where there must be less hurt? How do I make sure that I sense the feelings of others so I can recognize when I have permitted others to be hurt?
    Thank you Shelley, thank you Teddi, Thank you Shira


    • Diva-Mama
      February 4, 2014 | 7:02 pm

      My mother was, and is, my role model for demonstrating the essential and urgent nature of self-discovery. And it is always a work in progress. I hope to be half as brave as she in my life’s journey.

  7. Upside Down Icicle | divamama
    February 10, 2014 | 5:50 am

    […] feeling raw in my still fresh mourning of my mother’s passing, yesterday, I spotted something uncommonly soothing and strangely inspiring. I felt blessed to […]

  8. Ellen Greenfield
    February 10, 2014 | 5:52 pm

    What a beautiful tribute for a daughter to leave her beloved mother. Condolences on your loss, which was deep, but oh, what a wonderful spirit you got to grow up with!

    • Diva-Mama
      February 10, 2014 | 6:45 pm

      Thank you, Ellen. Coming from such a beautiful soul and talented author, I very much appreciate your thoughtful comment.

  9. Jane Dubro
    February 10, 2014 | 8:05 pm

    Beautiful tribute.

    • Diva-Mama
      February 10, 2014 | 8:36 pm

      Much appreciated, Jane. Thank you for stopping by my blog – and especially taking the time to comment on this particular post.

  10. […] brothers and children who will never shine on any screen. So please remember these people, like my mother of blessed memory, who raise their offspring with quiet dignity, step tentatively and sometimes […]

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