Here we are at October 2nd again. It's my mom's birthday and it's time for me to reflect on how much I love her. I won't focus on her age, but I will focus on mine. I'm 36 years old and for all of those years and for all of those days, she has cared for me and loved me unrelentingly.
She's known me as a good kid and she's known me as a troubled kid. She's been there for me at my happiest and she's been there for me when I couldn't see any reason for happiness. When I self-analyze, I can't help but see her influence in the best parts of who I am.
During the Great Candy Bar Shoplifting Attempt of '74, it was she who questioned me about the not purchased confection in my right hand as we exited the store. And within the minute, I was issued my scolding and was sent back to the cashier to replace what was not rightfully mine. I learned then that a life of crime would not be tolerated by my matriarch. (Of course, I seem to have no problem lying about remembering in what year this occurred, to say nothing of recalling in which hand I clutched the candy.)
I'm told (or do I remember?) that she would play "Time In A Bottle" by Jim Croce on the record player when I was a toddler and she would hold me and we would dance over and over to that song. It was through her influence that I also learned at a young age to love the music of Queen and the Beatles.
It was she who signed me out of school early one day so that she could take me to the first showing of The Empire Strikes Back at the Melrose Theatre. I knew that somebody was somebody else's father hundreds of minutes before most of my friends. And if I had had the foresight to not open the absolute plethora of Star Wars toys that she bought me over the years, I'd be a much richer man today...but then I wouldn't have the memories of playing with those toys that brought me so many hours of fun.
I never really went through the teenage rebellious years - sullen, but not rebellious - because she never really gave me much to rebel against. She never had a problem with long hair, loud music, or concert tees. In fact, she once took two of my friends and me to see Ozzy Osbourne and Motley Crue. Some parents would have gone just to keep the kids out of trouble. My mom went mostly as a fan. Imagine my friends' reaction when they looked to the row behind us and saw my mom rocking out more than we were.
She's been through a lot in life. She's had two divorces and she recently lost the love of her life to multiple sclerosis. She's more wonderful than she knows and I wish she could see herself through my eyes, or I wish I could do a better job at showing her how I see her. Whenever I sing to my children, I think of her singing to me when I was a child. When one of my kids is hurt or sad, I know that the need I feel to protect them is exactly the same as my mom's need to protect her children.
I thank her for who she was before I came around, and I thank her for who she has been for the 36 years that I have been her son. It's love and kindness that guides her. I can ask for nothing more from the best influencer in my life.
Later in the morning, I'll call her and tell her happy birthday. I'll also tell her I love her and that I'll visit her on my next day off. Hopefully, I'll remember to buy her a card. But for now, as I finish writing this, I'll listen to Jim Croce sing "Time In A Bottle," and I'll know that life dealt me a good card when it made me her son.
Anyone want to give my mom proper birthday regards? I dedicate this post and the comments to her.