At a time like this, I ask myself, “What would Mom say?”
With everything that goes on and with the world in a “time-out,” so-to-speak, I wonder what Mom would say about all this.
I assume Mom would tell me not to worry. I am sure Mom would tell me, “this too shall pass.” She would always say this when times were bad.
When life was too rough or things were too hard, Mom would say, “nobody ever promised you a rose garden.” This was Mom’s way of saying life is supposed to be hard. Struggle is necessary. Struggle is how we learn. Struggle is part of life and death is part of living. There is no escaping this fact. Mom would tell me, “Nothing worthwhile comes easy.” I suppose Mom was right about this one too. Then again, Moms are always right.
I never thought much about Mom or what she went through when I was young. I never thought much about the phone calls home from the schools, or worse, when the police called. I never thought much about what Mom went through when she had to meet me at the hospital. I was in a motorcycle accident without a helmet. No parent should ever have phone calls like this. But mine did.
I never thought much about Mom’s feelings at all. Moms are supposed to endure. This is what they do. This is part of the job. Moms are not allowed to be sick. Moms are supposed to be there whenever you need them. These are rules, by the way. I think it says so in the Mom Handbook. Not all Moms follow these rules by the way. Not all kids have the best Moms, but I did. And I know I did too. I just never knew how to show it the right way.
Moms are the stronger of the species. They know how to make things better. Whether this is with something as simple a special way of making cinnamon toast or if this is in the way they mix iced tea, nothing heals the cancer of the heart like Mom does.
I never thought much about what a Mom really is. Then again, I’ve never been man enough to play the role of mom either. I know some Moms that are also dads—what truly amazing people they are.
Mom . . .
There was the time I remember the principal called —and for the first time, it wasn’t me that did it.
I remember Mom yelling on the phone. She knew I wasn’t innocent by any means, but this time was different.
When I was wrong, Mom said I was wrong. But when I was right, Mom defended me even if I did undefendable things.
I have a memory of an Upstate drive after The Old Man died. The memory is not specific for any reason other than it was a quick moment.
This was a drive we took when Mom came to visit me in the town of Hancock. This was back when I was on the farm. The year was 1990 and there was a song on the radio by Lisa Stansfield. I think the song is called, All Around the World.
It was the first warm day of the year. The sky was blue and the mountains regained their spring-like appeal. Mom was alone for the first time. My Old Man was gone and my brother Dave was away at school. He was on his way to be a teacher. Everyone was always proud of Dave and for good reason too.
I suppose I felt badly. I suppose I felt like a let-down. I was the special one. I was the one with special needs. I was sent away to a farm with a collar around my neck —a collar, by the way is an arrest or criminal history. I was a mark of shame. I was the one that ended up in the paper because there was a helicopter chasing me through the town. I was supposed to be Mom and Dad’s bouncing baby boy, and yet, everyone was so good and perfect with their lives, and me, well . . . I had a story to say the least.
Mom . . .
As hard as this was, Mom was always there. She never wavered, not once, because Moms don’t waver. It even says so in the rule book.
I never said I was sorry for any of this. At least, not really. I suppose I made my amends somehow. Mom might have told me that I never needed to apologize. She would come and visit me sometimes. She would send me letters. She never went away or so much as even thought about giving up on me. And to be truthful, I never understood why. I never asked her why either but if I did, I suppose Mom would tell me, “because I’m your mother.”
She never had the chance to see what I’ve become. Of course, there is always someone that tells me she sees everything.
I hate when people say this. I hate this because this takes away from the feeling of truth, which is truthfully, Mom was never around to see what I’ve become. She was never there for me to call after a spot on television or a show on the radio. Deep down, I know Mom would be proud but nothing is the same unless I hear it from Mom, herself.
I never had the chance to come home with a good report card. Then again, I don’t have to come home with a report card anymore. My life is very different now.
When there is a loss, people feel the need to say “The right thing,” which can do more harm than help. For some reason we live in a world of relation and comparison. But there is no comparison, only similarity and unfamiliar territory. There are times when we are to lean in and times when to withdraw. There are times when we can be helpful and there are times when help is best left unsaid. I learned this when Mom died. I learned this when dealing with a parent that lost their child. I learned this when standing at vigil with a mom that lost her son to an overdose. And I learned this when I was most alone and missing Mom.
Sometimes, there are no words. Sometimes words fall short and there is literally nothing that can soothe the pain. Sometimes there is nothing that can help, except maybe a bowl of mom’s soup or her mashed potatoes.
I swear Mom’s cooking is better than antidepressants, better than penicillin, and perhaps better than the Resurrection itself because this is a resurrection in some ways. I call this a resurrection of the heart. Mom always knew when I was falling apart. She knew how to help put me back together again too —maybe not always, but she always tried.
And then age happened. This is when I thought I knew it all, which I laugh about because as a kid, I thought I knew everything. Then I grew up and realized that I didn’t know half as much as I thought I did. Then adulthood happened. I thought I knew everything there was to know again. And Mom would try and help me. I would tell her not to worry.
I’d say, “I know what I’m doing!”
I would yell sometimes because I saw opinion as an intrusion.
Besides, when you know everything, outside opinions are a pain in the ass insult because, “What do you think I am, a kid?.”
I’m a grown man!
And now I’m going to take my toys and go home (So there!)
Mom . . .
She just wanted to be a part of my life. But I had work to do and schedules to keep. I had much to prove and people to prove this to.
Mom would try and I would say, “I know what i’m doing.”
Sometimes she would call and sometimes I was too busy to talk.
Sometimes she would be sad and sometimes I would forget that my life is only my life because she helped give this to me.
Mom passed on a Wednesday. She passed on June 10, 2015. This year will be five years. That means I went five birthdays and five mother’s days without the morning phone call. I was her healthcare proxy. It was me that had to sign the paper to let Mom go.
Mom . . .
I’ve seen a cardinal in my yard for the past few days. I don’t know where you are. But wherever it is, I just want to open up and say a few things. Truth is I don’t know half as much as I thought I did. The truth is no one does —except for Moms.
I am not so much of my past anymore. I am so much different now. There is so much to show you and so much I would like to share.
There are people I would like you to meet. There are programs I have built and groups I’ve started; and I wish you were there sometimes. I wish you could see or come along, just to have someone report back that your baby boy is doing okay. And I am, Mom. I’m doing okay.
I just miss you is all.
It took me nearly 48 years to learn that no matter how old I am and no matter how much of a man I have become, every boy needs his Mom.
Today is Mother’s Day.
I hope the universe is able to echo this message to you. So for now, I’ll just leave this here. The one thing I know and that I will always know is there is nothing so strong as a mother’s love. I am grateful for this.
I could use a sign today. Nothing too big. I just want something that tells me what I know you would say… “this too shall pass.”
I hope you’re right about this one, Ma.
The tension is pretty high in the world right now and there’s no one around that can make things better like you did.
I love you