Sunday, September 9, 2007

My Way (Paul Anka... sung by Frank Sinatra)

Today is my mother's 77th birthday - I sent a vase of sunflowers yesterday and just called to extend my best wishes. My children sent her this plaque - she's always disdained the terms of grandma or grandmother, so, since they could talk, they've called her Mimi... :-)

She and I have a relationship encompassing all aspects of the pendulum swing - the faults I find in her, I know I might as well just point the finger back at myself. However, I also realize it is from her I inherited strength, one of my best attributes - when my father's alcoholism was beyond control, my mother learned to drive at 53 (my age now) so she could end a 29-year marriage and reclaim her life.

She found second love, in a wonderful man (he with Frank Sinatra's blue eyes, Bob Vila's handy ways and Job's patience) whose daughter lived in mom's apartment complex - they married... and it was devastating to us all when he was killed in a car accident seven years later...

My mom has had an impact on, and been an inspiration for, countless people over the course of her life - she has touched many, and has always provided a listening ear, a strong shoulder and a caring heart for others. She sings in Italian; she sends me, my husband and each of our children, checks with dollar amounts equalling the number of years old we are that birthday; she makes vats of spaghetti sauce and chicken soup when she comes to visit - the last few years have brought ongoing health problems, and it's strange to find the former whirlwind napping on the couch mid-day (who are you and what have you done with my mother?!?).

One of my favorite memories is, throughout my childhood, she and my dad entertained in our home - at a certain point in the evening, I could always count on them to play records on the stereo and, in a slightly “tipsy” state, put on her favorite song (on a compilation album) and begin to sing along. The hysterical part is that, if she didn't pick up the needle fast enough afterwards, the jarring first notes of Sleigh Ride would follow! - I always thought her taste in music was cheeZy... until just recently, when I realized that particular tune was really a perfect description of how she lived/lives.

She *has* done it her way, all these years I've known her - and, for better or worse, she's instilled in me that's the *only* way, and now I do it my way too... =*)

Thanks for being such a powerful influence in my life, and modeling the lesson of striving to be the best Me, instead of a second-rate Somebody Else... and now I thank goodness the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree - I love you, Mom… <3

POEM: Parents by William Meredith

What it must be like to be an angel
or a squirrel, we can imagine sooner.

The last time we go to bed good,
they are there, lying about darkness.

They dandle us once too often,
these friends who become our enemies.

Suddenly one day, their juniors
are as old as we yearn to be.

They get wrinkles where it is better
smooth, odd coughs, and smells.

It is grotesque how they go on
loving us, we go on loving them.

The effrontery, barely imaginable,
of having caused us. And of how.

Their lives: surely
we can do better than that.

This goes on for a long time. Everything
they do is wrong, and the worst thing,

they all do it, is to die,
taking with them the last explanation,

how we came out of the wet sea
or wherever they got us from,

taking the last link
of that chain with them.

Father, mother, we cry, wrinkling,
to our uncomprehending children and grandchildren.

QUOTE: “If you judge people, you don’t have time to love them.” ~ Mother Teresa

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