Thursday, August 2, 2007

100. Mom is more than his truest friend

Washington Irving wrote, "A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts."

By my count, this is my 100th column, and I cannot think of a better occasion to express my appreciation and love for "my truest friend." Irving says it better than I ever could, although he neglects to note the tendency to take a mother for granted- in those times of "prosperity and sunshine."

I am fortunate that my mother has always been there, unconditionally, supporting me, even when she disagrees with me. Driven, but wandering, I have certainly been a handful. Without pause, she is always there to pick me up, and remind me that life does go on.

Growing up, she was the glue that held our family together. I have previously written about some of the challenges my father experienced; however, through it all, she was there- to help him and support us. My parents had a "traditional" relationship, in that she often catered to my father's needs. Even though we found this bothersome at times, Mom knew best, and considering the mitigating circumstances, it worked for us.

I do not think my mother has ever missed a day of work, nor has she ever, to my knowledge, dismissed a responsibility- regardless of how she felt physically or how much she is inconvenienced. My father had many ideas, and she always stuck it out with him- whether it was running a small farm or opening a small restaurant. My siblings and I took her for granted, often running her around town; somehow she managed running a household, small business and getting us to practice on time. All the accolades rendered upon mothers around the world certainly apply.

For my parent's 30th wedding anniversary, we threw them a surprise party. The event featured my father glowing in the attention, and mom out on the dance floor, cutting a rug to the 50s music we arranged. For the event, we put together a parody video, noting in particular the stereotypes within our family. We had my mom, played by my wife, waiting "hand and foot" on my dad, with the religious tune of "Hallelujah" playing in the background every time she walked on screen. She is an angel; my father knew it, and we know it. She has such a sense of kindness and calming, and their marriage of over thirty years was a testament to her commitment to our family.

After my father passed, my mom entered a new segment of her life- one that my siblings and I found refreshing. She has become rather outgoing; doing much more than she ever could in her traditional marriage. She plays cards with her girlfriends, attends Indians games, and makes the occasional trip to Amish country. More than a mom, and my truest friend, she's pretty fun. And funny.

For example, at a recent family gathering, she made "Better Than Sex" cake. Of first note, is this idea that I do not think my mom ever said the word "sex," until I was 30. On this day, my 15 year old niece had over her slightly younger boyfriend. In discussing her cake, my mom without thinking, turned to my niece's boyfriend and said, "So, is it better than sex?" Before she even realized what she said, we were all nearly on the floor in laughter. The startled boyfriend answered the question brilliantly, noting that he had not yet tried the cake.

Very much conservative-leaning, our disagreements, though rarely expressed, are often political. And when our disagreements are discussed, her frustration with me is actually somewhat endearing. I suppose if it were still in her power, she would like to "send me and my liberal ideologies to my room." And since she hardly ever gets mad or frustrated, I feel guilty in that I almost find it funny when she attempts to express it. It is though she does not even know how to do it. Perhaps I will arrange an "anger empowerment" therapy session for her.

Despite the idea that her world is more black and white, she is amazingly adaptive when she must consider shades of gray. I often think what a great world this would be if everyone could be like her. Since that is not possible, I am selfishly grateful that she is my mom, and this column is dedicated to her.

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