In Chimp Trainer’s Daughter, I talk about my life and my family. Writing about one’s mother, though, is hard. As they say, it’s complicated.
I am far from alone, I know, in not having my mom by my side for important, life changing events. But so many women have to deal with even worse. Like the women who didn’t have their moms as they grew up, facing the day-to-day challenges of life.
Holly Draluck, a Facebook friend, recently wrote me about her trauma. Like me, like many of us, Holly thought, “going through it all seemed just like life.”
“I was a little child, just three years old - one of those little ones who desperately clung to her mom - when my parents divorced and I went to live with my Dad. Mom was not totally ‘stable,’ as the story goes, and she really believed that they would get back together.”
When the hope faded, Holly’s mom thought she could find a good husband to provide the home to have her girls back. It didn’t happen.
Holly’s mom killed herself when Holly was in college.
So many of us know what Holly feels when she talks about experiencing guilt, “and a very heavy ‘woulda, shoulda’ weight.”
But Holly turned her pain into something wonderful. For several years, she has led a growing global “Missing Orangutan Mothers” awareness campaign. On Mother’s Day, zoos and other organizations hold events to tell people about the challenges facing orangutans who have been orphaned in the wild.
“I think I formed an even deeper connection to orangutans by being able to relate to those little orangutans torn from their mothers, as I felt that same trauma,” Holly explains. “I know what it’s like. It was not a very conscious connection at first - but when I realized it, verbalized it, I cried.”
“It's funny how my life brought me to a love and connection to orangutans,” she says. “We all carry so much inside. When you look into someone's eyes, you can't always see it but it's in there.”
“I look into orangutan eyes and I see me.”
Join other orangutan lovers at zoos across America this Sunday, as we honor MOM - Missing Orangutan Mothers. Check here to see if your zoo is participating.
And then look into an orangutan's eyes.