My mom has felt occasional regret about her childhood circumstances, but she appreciates how hard her parents worked, and how very strong they were. She also remains best friends with her siblings. She was a great beauty, homecoming queen at Mumford High in Detroit. Although not a stellar student (though not for lack of intelligence), she graduated university with a degree in sociology, struggling without the resources available to the average student. She met my father at 19, and though she initially viewed marriage as her ticket to escaping her childhood, 50+ years later their relationship can better be described as a great love story. They are symbiotic—not in a weird, codependent way, but in a blend of yin-yang respect and gratitude.
My mom and her two younger sisters have been lifelong “questers” in search of the deeper meaning of things. This led them to study astrology and the planets—and though I am probably her biggest skeptic, when she reads my chart and tells me about myself, I am blown away by her accuracy and insights. At 71, she is finally doing charts professionally, and to great acclaim among her clients. Her questing put her in contact with a Lubavitch emissary many decades ago, and he reconnected her with her Judaism, to the point where she now lives an orthodox lifestyle with religion as her great passion. Though I am a skeptic on that front, too, I respect her passion, and really appreciate how it grounds her life and allows her to face aging and life with such great spirituality and equanimity.
My mom has always done so much for me, and that continues. She is my life coach, helps constantly with my children, hosts us for dinner on weekends to give me a break, calls me when she’s going shopping and often picks up groceries and other things for me. She comes with me to appointments when I need support, takes over when I leave town, sends me inspirational emails, and is always doing her damnedest to enlighten me religiously. We’ve gone at it over the years, but I do now incorporate the traditions of Judaism into my life in quite a significant way—at least compared to my heathen 20s—so I guess she’s had more impact than I sometimes care to admit.
Now that she’s in her 70s, I have become increasingly aware that our time together is limited, and I appreciate her all the more. Sometimes when I drive up to her house, I briefly think to myself: enjoy this moment, that you are here and that mom will open the door when you knock—for one day it won’t be so. I try not to be morbid, but it saddens me to think about that day, though perhaps it’s better to think about it a bit now rather than be blindsided later. In any case, it makes for much gratitude on my part.
We had dinner at my parents’ last night for mother’s day, and my mom barely sat down. We all helped, and I kept begging her to ease up, but she just remarked on how happy she was to have her family all there for dinner, and then alluded to one of her mottos: “Hard work doesn’t kill you, grief does.” She’s referring to the grief of disillusionment and disappointment by the people in your life, and she’s had her fair share, but she’s got it mostly in perspective at this point.
There’s so much more—no relationship comes close to the depth and complexity of that with our mothers—so I’ll just say thanks for everything, mom, I love you so much, and, to quote your mother: May you live and be well until 120.