Friday, October 28, 2011

Re-Post: Dear Mom

Recently, author Marianne K. Martin wrote an article,Double Edged Blessing, which touched me deeply. In it, she mentioned the letter that I wrote to my mother on her birthday. It's going to be her birthday again (October 31). I'm re-posting this letter in honor of  her birthday.  


Thanks, Marianne, for helping to spread our message about the humanity of all people and working to end hate crimes against the LGBT community. (Please follow the hyperlinks to follow up on Martin's books and visit the Pittmann Puckett Documentary web.)

Oasis Reflection: It's October again.


Halloween is Susan Pittmann, my mother's, birthday. When I see pumpkins, black cats and witches, I think of her. Why would that be a concern, you may wonder. You see, she was murdered in a hate crime 18 years ago by our neighbor, Jim Brooks. (I wrote about the murder.) Since that time a lot has happened around her story. Isn't it strange how a life can continue in some way even after it passes? Every October brings with it a time to reflect, whether I want to or not, about that tragic event. I thought I would just go ahead and write about it here, on my 100th blog post.

Dear Mom,
I turn to you on this day because I am compelled to embrace your life. You are the door that has led me on so many life journeys. I want to thank you for your strength and open mindedness. Do you remember that you once told me that I could have benefited from a mom who was more sensitive? I want you to know that you were enough, and that I did not need any other mother.
You were a strong straightforward person- a woman bound to accomplish, an entrepreneur, and a visionary. We had our differences. You liked having a practical vegetable garden and I loved growing flowers. You liked painted properties and I liked painted canvas. You were tough and I was sensitive. You were a 'people person' and I was somewhat reserved. Let me be clear about your insight, Mom, you were wrong because you were exactly what I wanted and needed. You taught me to toughen up, and I'm still learning that lesson from you.

Do you see that book cover I posted here, Love in the Balance? It arrived in the mail last week. It has a character, Evonne, who is loosely based on you. And the scene of the murder trial, news reports, the sentencing of Mr. Brooks are all factually correct. Some of it sounds like it came right out of the TV news reports, "Our top story tonight is the double murder this morning of two local women at their home in a quiet rural neighborhood...It is unclear whether the murders were the result of a boundary dispute. The women were in the process of installing a fence separating their property from that of the suspected killer." There is one mention about a daughter, Jenny, who spoke to the reporters and at the funeral. Her words make people understand that her mother was a loving mother, grandmother, and friend-and that living a lesbian lifestyle does not mean that you are someone who is separated from the normal embrace of family life. That message is what I try to share as well. I think you would like the book. It's about self-acceptance and celebrating life.


I found out about the book because the author, Marianne Martin, was interviewed by the film maker, Brian Alexander for the Pittmann Puckett Documentary- yes, there is a film being made about you and your partner's murder, and how it mobilized the gay-lesbian community into action. Did you know that the Michigan organization you founded (with others), Affirmations, is still going strong? It serves as a community and support center for people who are discovering and/or celebrating their sexual identity. There is an art gallery named after you, too, and I copied the dedication for you:


The Pittmann-Puckett Art Gallery was founded in memory of two of Affirmations founding members and strongest supporters, Susan Pittmann and Christine Puckett. The couple was killed in their home by a neighbor in 1992.


I went to Michigan last March to be interviewed for the film. It was a powerful experience, and I felt as though I could say all that was important to me about you and your murder. I hope the film is seen by many people, and that it continues to expand and open the perception of those who are narrow-minded. While I was there, I was able to visit the Pittmann-Puckett Art Gallery. I was proud to know that your presence continues to be felt within that organization. I particularly appreciate that an art gallery was named after you (and Christine). Do you remember that the first college class I ever took was with you? And it was art history?
I am strengthened by the memory of how you lived your life. Your graduation from Wayne State University at 50 years young-as you would say-continues to inspire me to strive forward regardless of artificial age limits. Thank you for showing me how to change and become strong enough to obtain my goals in life.
Just before you were killed, you told me that you were proud of me and how I lived my life. Mom, I hope I always make you proud of me. I hope my life reflects the best of your legacy. I will always love you.


Your daughter,


Cynthia "Sue"-included for you, Mom xxoo


PS. You will be happy to know that the Hate Crimes Bill was signed into law just three hours ago.

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To order Marianne K. Martin's books:
Love in the Balance
Indelible Heart

Please click on the hyperlink on the sidebar (rainbow Michigan) to visit Brian Alexander's web page: The Pittmann/Puckett Documentary.

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