Happy Mother's Day
At my Mom’s funeral, her therapist came up to my sister and I, offering comfort and solace. She told us, “if your Mom hadn’t been my patient, she would have been my best friend--If you guys need to talk, please don’t hesitate to call on me.” And if that doesn’t tell you all there is to know about my Mom, I got nothing else. That woman could charm the ethics off a trained psychologist.
Mom’s dream was that I would become a famous playwright and she’d play the Ruth Gordon character who would appear in all my plays. Mom loved life so much she wanted to live mine for me too. And if I could live my life with as much abandon as she brought to hers, I’d be having a whole lot more fun. Or at least it would look that way.
It was Mom who taught me that change is constant and people are truly drawn to those who give the impression that they know what they’re doing.
I’ve been asked a couple of times today how I’m feeling, it being Mother’s Day and all.
And to be honest, I feel all right. I had a wonderful day last Thursday with my Step-Mom (who is every bit as much my mother as my mother was—and my Mom loved that). And today, I called my great aunts and my Mom’s sister and my sister-in-law and at least one surrogate mother-figure I picked up along the way. And then I had a very nice dinner with this amazing woman who has taken me under her wing here in New York City.
But I miss Mom a lot. And, despite the fact that the world’s a lot bigger for me since she left, I’d give anything to sit around with her and show her what I’ve been doing and listen to her laugh at me.
Mom had an ability to change her life over night. One day she’d be one person and the next day she’d have a new career and a new husband or boyfriend or home. Sometimes it seemed that the only thing that caused her pain was the inability of the rest of us to keep up.
Of course, seven years ago I was a teacher looking for a job as an adjunct professor. And now look at me, a fancy New York artist wondering where my next paycheck is. I expect I bewildered a few people with that maneuver.
Seven years ago, I stood before my grandmother and my stepmother and my Dad and the rest of my family and we ached, ached, ached, because Mom died young and we lost so many family-members in such rapid succession. My Great-Aunt Joy and my step-father and three of my grand-parents all went, one right after the other in about a three year period. And we were numb, shell-shocked and positively giggly with sadness.
Because the one thing my family knows how to do is laugh through the pain and find joy in the blues. We’re all Kermit the Frog, sitting on a log, strumming on a banjo and singing about rainbows in a voice that’s half an inch from despair. It ain’t easy being green, but cheap vaudeville skits can only make things better. And cartoons help too.
Four husbands, two children, a life in rock and roll, theatre, real estate, retail marketing, political consultation, insurance analysis and mental-health advocacy. Not to mention, a gifted jewelry-maker, and crochette-artist and, seriously, she rolled the best joints.
That was my Mom.
She was also a royal pain in the ass; being her kid was painful and confusing. But, as I told her three days before she died, “Even though I could take a two by four to you for what you put me through, I’m really glad you were my mother.” And she laughed and we hugged and I went back to Austin and when the phone call came as I was driving south on Lamar, I turned around and headed back to Phoenix.
I was playing a video game in the front room when my sister told me to come to Mom's bedside. By the time I got there, all that was left was a smile on her face.
Mom’s funeral was on Mother’s Day, 1999.
The last couple of years, Mother’s Day has taken me by surprise, because I forget this anniversary until the feelings hit. And every year I find comfort in the fact that there was nothing left unsaid between her and me and I try to live a life she would be proud of.