I was very close to retrieving the sacred laptop case and sifting through it again tonight, but I decided against it. It's not that I didn't want to, of course, it's that it occurred to me I really haven't spoken much of my mom yet on this blog, and the time is overdue for me to do so. Before I go on more about my mom and what this season means to us, here is a song I wrote and recorded for her as a Mother's Day gift..it was 2001 I believe, but could have been 2002. It's inaccurate to credit the song as Atomic Honey, as we were still almost a decade away from me forming Atomic Honey...but I digress.
My mom, as most of you would guess, is a very sensitive and compassionate human being--those traits I most certainly inherited from her, and I'm grateful for it. My dad taught me strength, and how to stay calm under pressure, and how to stand up for yourself when you needed to; but my mom taught me compassion: how to hug and say "I love you" without feeling awkward. No disrespect intended in the least, but strength has never been my mom's forte. If you needed to know how to comfort someone and make them feel they mattered, she was perfect; if you crashed on your bike and needed a bandage, she was perfect for that too. But if you were being bullied at school, her counsel would very likely get you pummeled ten times worse, and destroy any chance you might have had at a happy social life. I'm exaggerating, but not by much.
See, my mom was sheltered as a child: she wasn't allowed to date or even go to a rock concert. Her father actually escorted her to her senior prom (that's no joke or exaggeration, unfortunately). So of course the first thing she did when she graduated from high school was get married. That's a happy thing in the sense that I exist because of it, but my mom never had a chance to be independent--never had her own bank account, never had her own apartment or car...never had the chance to so much as change a light bulb. She was totally unprepared for the dog-eat-dog world we live in. And of course, my dad did a fantastic job of caring for me and my mom, so she remained dependent for the most part even after she escaped her parents. This is the extremely abridged version--there are a million stories I could share about my mom over the years--and maybe some of those will make their way into later chapters of this journal.
Fast forward now to August of 2006: my dad is diagnosed with a brain tumor, and all our lives are suddenly turned upside-down. For my mom, that meant--for the first time in her life--facing the very real possibility of having to fend for herself. It meant having to deal with things breaking around the house, balancing checkbooks, paying bills, mowing the lawn, raking leaves...oh yeah, and it meant she would be without her companion of more than 30 years--the love of her life. She'd eventually go to sleep to an empty California King bed each night, and wake up alone. All for the first time.
It occurs to me now that I should tell you my mother had held different jobs over the years (she even has one now!), and had her own car many of those years--my dad took care of her, but he didn't shelter her. When I was with them, I wasn't at an age to contemplate these types of things, but I suspect in retrospect that my dad worked very hard to help her grow after they were married. She did learn a lot of new skills over the years, but strength was never her forte. Like I said, this is the extremely abridged version. I sorta digress.
I did the best I could to help her through all the transitions after my dad died, but it was difficult. I grieved along with her, of course, but it's one thing to lose a father, and another thing completely to lose your only human companion. I tried to empathize as much as I could, but it was impossible for me to see things completely from her perspective. This turned out to be a good and beautiful thing over time.
As it turns out, I was a product of both my mom AND my dad: I had the compassion to empathize just enough because of her, and I had the strength and calmness-under-pressure because of him. I'm leaving out all the details for the purpose of this journal (I'm sure it will come up again sometime), but over time I learned how to apply what I learned from both of them to help her through this. During difficult days (and there were many early on), I was able to say, "Well, Dad would say/do this I think" and so on. And she would listen. As she told me more about herself, I would tell her more about myself, and we started growing together. Yes, we have always grown together, but we did so on a different level after Dad died. She started seeing me as a male role model in her life (her parents have long been dead), and I started seeing her as someone who was starting their adult life all over again. In an odd way, it was a bit like she was my daughter that had went away to college. We have never been closer than we are today, despite our geographical distance. I think I have embraced my new role in her life, and she has embraced her new role in mine. It's really a beautiful thing. We are both very blessed and grateful, and we discuss that often.
Mom is always quick to tell me how proud she is of me, and I'm quick to shrug it off and say "You guys taught me well. If you feel the need to thank me, you should thank yourself first." I tell her how proud I am of her too, but not quite as often--I have to keep my image up you know, just like Dad taught me *wink, wink*.
I really am so super proud of her though. I could write many pages on just how and why I'm so proud of her, but I won't. Not yet anyway. She has become so much stronger and more calm under pressure with each passing year since Dad left us, and I'm so honored to be a part of her journey. Truly, a person could not ask for a better mother.
November 30 this year will mark year 8 without us having Dad with us in the flesh. Much as I miss him, I've no doubt things worked out just the way they were supposed to. If you're listening, Dad: Mom & I have found ways to be very happy even though we miss you--not every day of course--we have good and bad days which you taught me is normal in this life.You would be happily amazed to see how she's grown...and in all honesty, Dad, I think she was much stronger to begin with than we ever gave her credit for. Thank you for helping me help her. You are the best father a person could ask for. We will all be together again when the time is right--even my baby sister Trisha. I trust you & Trisha enjoy your time together, even as I type this--please tell her I said "hello" and that I love her.