Let’s go with Helvetica today – it’s a cheerful font, least to me. We both struggle with a high c-reactive quotient, so we got to pull out all the tricks. Absolutely nothing to be down about. It’s a gorgeous day today – springtime balm of light breeze, gentle humidity just enough to capture the essence of morning, birds singing, all it would seem in reverent applause for Mother’s Day.
Did I tell you I love you? Of course I did. Did I send flowers? Of course I did. Those many years ago, it didn’t translate that way, I’m sure. Surrendered kickin, screamin in full protest mode. So I’m told. Who knows what’s real vs cultivated memory? I heard stories of, what was it they used to come take me? Hammer and tongs? Broke my grip on bliss, they finally at long last broke my will to not be born. Didn’t wanna do any harm, still don’t. Now, look what’s gone down during my few minutes on the planet? Well there’s still time for redemption.
Then surgery, imagine I’d a been a bigger dude and smarter too without the starvation by pyloric stenosis. Imagination is fun, you taught us that. I honestly think I can still taste the chloroform though, nasty. My c-reactive quotient and general interpersonal sense might have been better developed without the post traumatic stress. You too. It had to be post partum nightmare city. But look at me, it all worked out. And look at you. Same, but better! I know you must be very proud of what the choir said about you when we laid you down at last.
You were probably too young but it was normal for the times. I am guessing you didn’t know what love was, and then poof, you’re stuck with a hyperactive activity trap for a kid, a walking do-loop, and you’re only 21, damn. Explains a lot of course, certainly why my brother and sister are 5 and 6 years younger right? The Dakota prairie must have been just a short step removed from Giants in the Earth. We’re talking the 50’s here, a few airplanes, TV’s, freeways, nothing. Just fear and nature. Cold war air raid civil defense planning, duck and cover drills, missile siloes under construction around the corner and blizzard after blizzard with heat and drought on the side. O.E. Rolvaag was bleak, but he was honest, like most Norwegians. And there we were, all that was missing was the sod-hut!
Dakota in winter with an asthmatic 3 month old recovering from major abdominal surgery and no throwaway diapers, no baby formula, no baby monitors, hardly any of the conveniences we take for granted today. We have no idea. More to the point I have no idea how you did it? No exaggeration, this was your life. For the record, I am re-creating this now from my imagination. You never let on with me that times were tough, that I was a difficult child, that we didn’t have all we needed, that life was anything but filled with opportunity.
And your voice, your beautiful mezzosoprano. I still swoon for opera. The Lakme Flower Duet takes me to another planet. Ave Maria! Somewhere I have a reel of tape with your voice. I trust the angels will help me find it and a way to play it. I need to get after that. You have a gift and you shared it with so many people. I am blessed to have you as my Mother. Thanks.
You kept going to school, working all along. Got your masters degree in English. So I actually read Tale of Two Cities and Grapes of Wrath and All Quiet on the Western Front. Kept reading after that, couldn’t stop, Fear and Loathing and Crime and Punishment and 100 Years of Solitude and American Tragedy and Dune and Count of Monte Christo. You gave me a love of reading, and that’s been the ticket. Thanks for that. You were a working mom before it was the norm. I’m bustin proud of you. And I think it’s pretty certain I speak for Mike and Elizabeth too. Thanks.
The divorce hit me harder than my own even, though I’m guessing Shari and I had more genuine love than you and dad? I don’t know. Growing up is like life in a bubble. You simply can’t know what you don’t know. I remember when I got the word, I’m thinking, what after 25 years, huh? What’s next? Then you married Ed and enjoyed 35 years or more of bliss. I am so happy for you. And you were happy. And we were so happy with you. Life indeed goes on and it does indeed get better.
So now I have a few minutes of this life left, and I simply want to say it again, for the record and for all the world, thanks mom, I love you! You done good; better than that, you ran the best race anyone could have run. You know this but we all fight our inner doubts. You deserve to love yourself with all God’s heart. You deserve all the best the creator promises. I hope you will always know that your ski-jump nosed, terrorist little boy carries you in his heart in all that he does.
A few years ago while I was going through my divorce and working in DC, I was invited to my boss’s house to celebrate Mother’s Day with his family – two Mothers, his wife and daughters, sons and their friends. Such a generous invitation, right? An unusual day to share with others, but he did and I took him up on it. My spirit was lifted and cheered just as the doctor ordered. I won’t be with you this year again for your special day, but I trust your spirit was always cheered on your special days as mine was on that day.
Wishing you a bright, sunny Sunday in May. With lilacs in full bloom. Birds singing. The call of the oriole. This was my childhood because of you! Spring is here. We are blessed. We are content. Happy Mother’s Day. God bless you Mom!