Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Mom's Place

Blown in by a cold prairie windstorm, we arrived at my mother's doorstep late in the evening, a bit dusty and a lot road-weary. After over a month wandering in the desert, there was no place that we would have rather been.

Mom shares a house with Linda, her best friend of over 24 years. Their house is big and bright and designed for easy living. Their home is warm and inviting and filled to overflowing with the fun and laughter of great companionship and fine friends. Without hesitation, they took us into the whirlwind of their lives--an evening birthday party with their neighborhood circle, an afternoon of dinner theater, a midday baseball game, a mad round of golf at twilight, a night of league bowling, and long coffee-filled dog-walk mornings. It was exhausting!

But it was also wonderful. Many of us become poetic, in one way or the other, when it comes to describing our mom and our memories of growing up in her household. I remember the piano lessons and the recitals. I remember being in bed, falling close to sleep, listening to gentle lullabies mom played on the family piano, wishing I could play with such love. I remember struggling through school, her expectations resolutely holding me to the highest standards; though I never understood how she could be satisfied with me when I finished dead last. I remember the family dinners every night around the scuffed walnut table, the recounting of the day’s activities, the bible readings, the fabled “Word of the Day” vocabulary quizzes, the memory of these evenings a still-living lesson in civics and the humanities. I remember being given the freedom to play. Summers at the city pool. Saturdays at the city library. Friday after school wasting time and money at the arcade. I remember being given the responsibility to make my own choices—the years in the saddle, pursuing the athlete’s dream; the years of dropping into and out of (and into again) university. And through it all I’ll never forget my mother saying, “You can choose to do or be whatever you want. If you want to travel the world, travel the world. If you want to be an athlete, be an athlete. If you want to be a writer, be a writer. No matter what you do, no matter what happens, I will support you and the choices you make.”

And so when Diane and I take it upon ourselves to climb into a cramped yellow microbus and wander around the country, when I worry that my mother won’t approve, when I worry that we’re frittering away the most productive years of our lives, I remember the lessons my mother taught me. And I know that no matter where we go, no matter what we do and how we do it, mom will be right there along with us, a song in my heart, its melody a source of great comfort and happiness.

Happy Mother's Day, mom.

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