14 May 2010
Happy Birthday Mom
This is Mom.. today she is 60 years old.
It’s strange when your parent turns sixty. As a kid, the idea of them being that old is unthinkable. Your grandparents are sixty..
One of Mom’s favorite books is “The Giving Tree”. In it, an apple tree loves a boy and gives him everything. First its fruit, later itself. The boy becomes and old man, the tree nothing but a stump. The book says the tree is happy at the end, but I never believed it.
Mom raised two kids, my sister Amy and I. We never appreciated her enough. How could we? Kids have no concept what it means to be a single parent. We became angry at her over what we didn’t have instead of loving her for what we did, unable to see the effort she put forth to give us the moments of happiness we experienced.
She married again, trying to create another family for us out of spare parts but knowing it was a losing proposition. To say she made the best of it is another understatement. She now had three stepchildren in their 20s living at home, if a couple of plywood “rooms” hastily built in her garage could be considered living. They worked menial jobs, blew every last dime on self-indulgence, and showed no inclination of “growing up”. But Mom loved them both. She genuinely cared about these people, even as they treated that which she provided them as their right instead of a generous gift. All the while trying to teach her own children responsibility and show them the need to become responsible adults.
Then she became honest with herself, made a decision purely for herself for the first time in my life. I was in college, and after dinner one night she told me she was gay. I could lie and say I was surprised, but what I felt was joy. Not that she was gay, but that she could now lead her life for herself. This was her telling me that.. she was going to be happy.
As she enters her seventh decade, my greatest hope is that she continues on this path. She has earned it..