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Friday, October 23, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mom

This Sunday, October 25, marks the 74th anniversary of my mom's birth. This will be the first such date for me without her.

It has now been seven months since she passed away. The tears are fewer and farther between, but they still come at random, and sometimes inopportune moments. One day I was standing on a street corner waiting for the pedestrian light to change so I could cross. As I stood there, I saw a mother primping her little prince, doing that thing only moms do. She licked her fingers and swiped them through his hair as the world's least expensive, but most wonderful hair product ever created. She then used this same miracle elixir to clean off what was probably dried mustard from his face. 

It was as if I was Ebeneezer Scrooge being led down a path where I could see my own memories being acted out in front of me. I knew exactly how that boy felt. 

Oh mom, c'mon. I'm fine. I don't like my hair like that. Oh, and by the way, the sandwich you made for me today was really good! Especially the mustard!

Sometimes it takes us many years to learn to appreciate what we had as kids. I know many people who had very difficult lives growing up. My heart aches for them. I had an embarrassment of riches when it came to the love I had from my mom. She drove me everywhere. All my practices, all my games. She was always my biggest fan. 

One summer during my vacation from elementary school, she bumped into a friend at the grocery store who was a staff member at the Boys Club in Petaluma, where I spent a lot of my boyhood time. He was taking a group of kids from the Boys Club out to Bodega Bay for an overnight camp out, and picking up a few last minute items before they headed west for the beach. For some reason, we were unaware of the trip, but he welcomed me to join them. Unfortunately, they were already on their way, and I was still at home. Mom came home, told me about the trip, helped me pack a bag, and just like that, she's driving me out the winding roads toward the beach.  For the one and only time in my life, I got car sick that day. My mom is driving like a mad woman along the coastal roads, and I'm hanging out of the car window sprinkling the roadside with my breakfast.

My mom was so passionate about my having the best experiences, the best childhood possible, there literally was nothing she would keep from me. That's not to say I was spoiled materially. True, I knew how to turn on the Mother Manipulation Mechanism to get that toy that was strategically placed by the checkout stand at the store. I could usually push the right buttons to score whatever bounty was to there to be had, despite her initial refusals. But her heart was no match for her little man who convinced her he would surely die if he didn't have that item.

As a grown man, I know I broke my mom's heart more times than I can stomach imagining. I'm sure she knew many of the secrets I thought I was able to sneak by her. But my mom showed me the heart of God, even before either of us had become intimately acquainted with Him. God knows every single detail of my life. How humiliating is that thought? But he withholds no good things from me. Like my mom would do, I get the occasional swat on my backside when I disobey. But it's done with such love that the pain of disappointing her was greater than the sting of the spanking. How many times I have let God down. But still, nothing can separate me from His love.

God blessed me with an amazing mother. Even now, seven months since she left us, I hear her voice. I sense her heart of love and compassion. I pray that my life is a reflection of the quality of woman she was, and that I honor her many sacrifices to give me a good life and a good home.

So I lead the rest of my life with this charge. As I honor God, I honor my mom. And as I honor my mom, I honor God.

Mom, I miss you. But you are, and will always be part of me.

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