When my mother was 5 years old George Balanchine saw her dance and saw her beauty and natural talent. He approached my grandmother and offered a full scholarship to The School of American Ballet that he had just founded with Lincoln Kirstein. My grandmother’s reply was a resounding no because in quotes “ballerinas and actresses are whores”. That moment colored my mother’s entire life. At that tender young age her dreams and desires were shattered. My mother seemed to live a life of unfulfilled dreams. Yes she would go out and achieve things like becoming a registered nurse and one of the first pediatric nurses in the United States and in the world and training many others too. My mother was very good at what she did and was an inspiration. There are quite a few nurses and even a few doctors because of her. She worked in the public health sector. She was gutsy. She saved lives. She stood up to drug lords. When it came to a sick child she was fearless.
Yet my mother felt worthless, unfulfilled….why? Because buried deep inside her soul was still that hurt deprived 5 year old little girl who wasn’t allowed to become a ballerina.
My mother was very good at keeping her hidden but I was lucky to see her emerge a rare few times like when we shopped for my senior prom dress. I still in my minds eye see her standing next to me as we looked at my refection in the full length mirror. Her beautiful brown eyes sparkling even brighter than mine. Her smile wider. Mom was rarely like that.
Another time was at my niece’s wedding. The DJ started playing a polka and a few people got up to dance. My mother said to me “Catherine, let’s show them how it is REALLY done!” and mom and I got up to polka…again for a few magical moments the little girl shone through and my mother was completely happy.
There are a few precious memories that I have of her secret five year old self coming out. I call them “My Precious Pearls”. Mom was not the easiest person. I truly questioned once if she really loved me and wanted me. I had heard my whole life that I was my father’s idea but I had never heard from her lips once that I was her idea too or that she had wanted me. One day I finally had the courage to ask her. She sighed. Then she did a surprising thing. She put her pride aside and said. “I love you Catherine. Of course I wanted you. You would not be here. You are my daughter.” Then she hugged me. That is the most precious pearl of all.
©copyright 5/14/2012 catherine anne hayes