Dear friends, relatives, and readers!
If you ever met my mother, Violet Oaks, you know that she almost always smiled. Wednesday, March 29, 2017, she would have turned 100 years old. She died just short of her 98th birthday, apparently in her sleep over at the Eugene Hotel, an active retirement center that she lived in her last decade here in Eugene, Oregon.
If you did not know my Mom, her smile may reach you somehow. At bottom is a little letter that I shared with some friends and relatives.
You will find links with bio info, still photos, and lots of videos.
I will remember Mom in many ways. For example, this Saturday, April Fool’s Day, April 1, 2017, at 6 pm, at Kesey Square, in downtown Eugene, a little troupe of us will be doing a free street theatre skit, Ghost Buskers. For me, I dedicate this to Mom’s memory. Yes, I am the fool, but Mom loved the world even though foolishness appears to be our universal holiday. For those of you in Eugene, more info on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1747190835570892/
Or you can download this flyer: ghost-buskers-free-20170401-flyer
“Mom, I hope you do not mind if I tell the world that your spirit lives through the kindness we show one another!” I will hopefully sow peace and love, now and throughout my life, or at least try. Sowing kindness was kind of a mantra for Mom. Mom and I, like many of our relatives, have Lithuanian heritage and Chicago connections.
In her 80’s Mom left her beloved Illinois and I had the immense pleasure and honor of being close with her for about a decade. Incredibly, for the first few years she volunteered about two or three days per week, almost every week, at our MindFreedom office, where I worked as Executive Director. Mom probably touched and filed every single paper in the entire office, and she was “old school” which means she worked in a focused way from beginning to end. Even into her 90’s, Mom volunteered there about one day a week. Only in her final years did she stay at home, and even then she supported my activism for human rights and mental health.
One quick story: About the fifth time I was locked up in a psychiatric institution way back in the 1970’s, I learned from an activist from Mental Patients Liberation Front how to submit a “three day letter” which would force them to release me or go to court. The head psychiatrist phoned up Mom.
He said, “We would like to go to court to commit David.”
Mom famously replied, “If our David wants to try freedom, we support him.”
Yes, I was very troubled, but Mom knew that the inner me was far more complex than the mental health system recognized, apparently. Mom would say later, “They did not know who you were.”
Mom and the rest of our home family, Dad, brother Tony and Uncle Al, were all there to attend my graduation in a few months in 1977, 40 years ago.
Thanks Mom, for supporting freedom!