Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day Reprise: In Praise of Patti Weir

Johnny Weir and his mom, Patti, in Times Square
From an interview with, September 2009

I first wrote this entry on March 12, but since more readers have discovered the blog recently, today seemed the perfect day to repost for any who might have missed it earlier.

This started out as an open letter to Johnny's mom, Patti Weir, a woman I admire so much that there aren't even words for it, but along the way it made itself into a poem--into free verse, actually, which, when the subject is Johnny Weir, seems exactly right.

May I extend my best wishes this Mother's Day to the amazing Patti, and to all the moms out there who are getting it right, one child at a time. And may we see our world transformed into a kinder, more open, and more caring place through the legacy of grace and love that we leave to, and that lives on in, our children.

Dear Patti,

From one mom to another:
You are amazing.

I would love to meet you for coffee.

You are funny, outspoken, and brave.

You are the only mom I know
who would allow the world to watch
as you plaster on huge fake eyelashes
to be interviewed by your son,
who himself has donned a blonde wig,
fake glasses, and a Russian accent,
and begins the interview with,
"He came out of your vagina,"
to which you simply nod and smile.

It's easy for the rest of us to forget
that the phenomenon known as Johnny Weir
did not just fall out of the sky one day
for our entertainment.

Once upon a time, he was a little boy.
Your beautiful little boy.

(I'm sure he still is every time you look at him.)

A little boy who very much went his own way.
"Even when I was little, I was playing on a soccer team
and running the complete opposite way,
pretending to be a zebra, an ostrich, or something.
So I have always been ... like this."

"We tried soccer, baseball and hockey,"
you said,
"but Johnny never liked team sports.
He was so shy and quiet.
But on the ice, he came alive.
It was OK to be himself.''

Johnny has often said
that it was you and his dad
who taught him that it was OK
to do just that:
to be himself.

But while you instilled in him that it was OK,
I don't think it was ever easy.

When ignorant people
made appallingly ignorant comments
about Johnny during these last Olympics,
he shrugged.

"I've heard worse in bathrooms and whatnot about me."

(I can only imagine
the incredibly hurtful incidents
that inform that simple sentence,
and the pain they must have caused
And you.
Because a wound inflicted on your child
is so much worse than anything
you might suffer directly.)

But you and your husband, John,
raised your boys to know this:

"You must always be yourself
and always enjoy what you are doing
and take no prisoners.

"You can’t care what anyone else thinks
because really there is no basis for that in your life.

"You have to live your life for yourself."

Johnny says you were very upset
that he chose to withdraw from Worlds this year.
And yet I know you remain
his unconditional support.
And that's what allows him
to make his own decisions
and stand behind them,
because even when you disagree with him,
you're there
standing behind him.

Your wickedly witty boy
is an inspiring example
of grace, dignity, and courage:
a man who owns who he is.
And in the end,
that's all that really matters.

And we can all see that your little boy
became this very fine young man
very, very much because of you.

So thank you, from all of us
who have fallen in love with Johnny,
to you--
who loved him first
and fiercely
and so very well.

PLEASE VOTE HERE for Johnny to win
the 2010 Readers' Choice Skater of the Year Award!
And please keep voting for Johnny
as "Most Addictive Reality Star"
in the NewNowNext Awards! Vote here
(he's the last one listed in the fifth category--scroll down!)
or on Twitter by constantly tweeting #realityWEIR.
Voting ends June 4, which gives us plenty of time
to get Johnny oh, say, ONE MILLION votes!

copyright 2010 / Binky and the Misfit Mimes / Lynn V. Ingogly / all rights reserved


WheresMyKoppy said...

What a wonderful letter! So true, and I certainly am happy that you posted it for us all to read!

auntyamyj said...

I loved reading it just as much the second time as I did the first!
Happy Mothers Day to you my dear, and Happy Mothers day to Patty too!
Love ya!

Jenn Kittler said...

Thanks for reposting, Binky. He broke my heart a little bit with "I've heard worse about me…" It pains me every time I think about the post-Torino ugliness he mentioned in his March 2006 journal entry. The act of lacing up his skates and putting himself back out there was truly heroic. As a grown woman I don't have the strength he showed as a 21-year-old. And how hard that must have been for Patti, to hide her fear and pain help him find the path that was right for him. The whole family is amazing, but I try to learn a little bit about myself every day by watching these two lead their lives. Happy Mother's Day to to Binky and all the moms out there.

purrmonsta said...

Well said Binky, well said. Thank you for posting and re-posting this, so perfect for today.

PumaJ said...

Beautiful and moving poem ❤ I read somewhere that there were times Patti worked two or more jobs so that her family could support Johnny in his skating and still have a roof over their heads and food on the table.

In the culture I grew up in, a woman such as Patti is considered a "Woman of Valor".

aaaack said...

Patti is heroic. Heard that at one point she was working three jobs to make ends meet and pay for coaching. His parents have wiped out any retirement account they had created to pay for coaching and choreography. They uprooted and moved home and jobs to be near a skating rink and coaching. The Weirs are extraordinary and courageous parents, and Johnny is an extraordinary person as a result.

Debora Walsh said...

Thank you for reposting this wonderful tribute to Patti Weir. She has become the very public face of mothers and fathers everywhere who dare to allow their children to venture into non-conformity without fear of loss of acceptance. Their support for Johnny has allowed him to spread his wings and bring snippets of beauty into the lives of countless people around the world. He is an extraordinary young man...Thank you Patti, and Happy Mother's Day!

Maggie St. said...

Thanks so much for this re-post. In the spirit of Mother's Day, I have to post this card my daughter made for me. I opened my eyes to find this card next to my clock radio on Sunday morning. This from the kid who hasn't made me anything for Mother's Day in probably 10 years. And then I wake up to find this:

Misfit Mimes said...

An additional comment from "WheresMyKoppy":

I had never read his March 2006 entry until it was mentioned here, so I just went and read it. I knew back in 2006 he was having a tough time, but even though I had followed him for several years, I didn't know as much about him personally then as I do now.

I remember getting definitely upset with him in Torino over his reaction to something Boitano supposedly said about skaters at the time. The truth was, another skater had gone to him and given him only part of what BB had said, and JW being JW had commented on it without getting the full quote or the context. So I sent him a response to one of his blogs I'm sure he probably never actually saw. I wasn't mean, I wasn't rude, I merely gave him the entire quote and the link to where BB's blog had contained it. And I also told him I would hate to judge someone by one quote, especially only part of a quote, and I used some ... comments Sasha Cohen had made re: Michelle Kwan as an example.

Basically I told him I would hate to have someone judge his friend Sasha ... by her quotes the way I felt he had judged Boitano. I was furious with Johnny at the time and I admit it.

But I never stopped caring about him, and it literally makes me want to cry when I read about some of the comments he received at the time and the ones he still receives. I could never imagine talking about anyone the way I've seen Johnny Weir be talked about.

I've seen Boitano and other skaters get slammed pretty hard, but some of the stuff JW has had to deal with... He's just an incredibly strong and resilient person. He deserves all the success and accolades that come his way!

bsontwit (Beth) said...

patti weir is a mom i look up to. she is a strong woman who raised her kids right and let them become who they wanted to be. unconditional support, a role model to all us moms out there.