Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Early Mother's Day

Big, mushy post ahead. Don't say you weren't warned, y'all.

First, my deepest thanks to the many of you who've been kind enough to keep my Mother in your prayers and to ask after her these last scary months. Great news:

She's actually getting to go home today.

I'm glad I haven't put on make up yet this morning, because it would be pretty yucky what with the messy, happy crying face I'm working on as I write this.

Some of you might've figured out, either by reading my book or posts here that I'm an unabashed, ridiculously unapologetic Mama's girl. I'm also pretty sure I could live another half a million hours - yes, I added it up - and not do justice to the things I've learned from her or the many ways her love has made this life worthwhile.

Her grandchildren - my passel of nieces and nephews - are perhaps the people who most get why I'm be this goofy for her. The big things about her and the little ones. They all blend in...

Little things as seemingly insignificant as watching the credits for films and talking about the hard work that went behind all kinds of art.

And then the bigger things start adding up...She taught us not only about history but its relevance to daily living. This helped with context and reeeaaally helped with comedy. Ah, comedy.

When I was eight years-old and told her I wanted to do stand-up comedy for the school Christmas pageant, you know what she said?

"Honey, what a great idea!"

Good Lord. She actually helped me write down George Carlin jokes from the Ed Sullivan Show. She helped me phrase funny anecdotes from my kid sisters. And then she was the only one laughing her ass off during the show. When I finished, she said, "You were GREAT!"

Though I thought I acquitted myself honorably, I felt it fair to mention, "But nobody laughed!"

Do you know what she said? I'm chucking to recall it exactly...

"Well, they didn't GET it!"

What Mom tells a third-grader she's too hip for the room?

My Mama, that's who. That kind of self esteem mixed with, sure, a modicum of delusion, would stand me in good stead for years to come and give me the guts to go onstage on an open mic night in Texas when I had nothing else to lose.

Yet, part of that important stuff that lasted in my spirit, even though it's not about comedy, what stands out the most are her lessons about racism. If someone used a racial epithet in our presence, she'd tell them about it in ways that never diminished the person who made the statement. It was extraordinary to behold.

I had unkind reactions, and usually wanted to call them a bigot and say, "Begone!" But my mother wouldn't ever double a sin by reenacting it.

She herself has been judged for various choices and even events that were beyond her control in her own life and, at times, by those closest to her. As in blood kin. And she never returned the treatment in kind, never extending judgement or unforgiveness in the wake of the same.

I'm glad some of those people finally realized how amazing she is. Some of them actually told her, too. The amazing thing with Mom is that they didn't have to. She loved them anyway. She understood. More than I'll ever comprehend.

Someone recently did something for her that is complicated to explain and I bristled at what I thought was massive hypocrisy behind it the act. Before I could vent my uncharitable opinion, Mom just said, "It's just how he is. It's the best he can do. How often does anyone get the best someone can be?"

Crap. She was right.

To a thin-skinned daughter who felt like defending her, her behavior seemed like pearls before swine. It also seemed like the way I want to be and possibly COULD be after umpteen more incarnations flipping over like a fish in a skillet til I get it right.

And while she would be the last person to compare her attitude or behavior to Him, in real and important ways, she reminds me of that Someone who rolled that way, at great cost to Himself. Now this next part is touchy territory, but because I saw Jesus used as a dividing line and even a weapon in my Dixie childhood, I might have ended up confusing the Man for the many hateful things done in His name. Although she was far from religious, my mother straightened me out on that.

What a huge lesson: Knowing the difference between religion and spirituality. Oh I'm not saying I've got that puppy anywhere near down pat: but because of my mother, I'm able to see where they can and do overlap. And, on occasion, where they're miles apart.

Look, I don't have any way of knowing the statistics of Mothers who truly want their children to find what it is they're good at, what makes them happy and then go for it even if it is completely unconventional but that's the kind of Mom I've got.

And I know, too, that a bunch of people will read this who have lost their dear mothers and I'm sending you the biggest hugs possible in the unlikely delivery vehicle of ether and intention.

And I'm even sorrier for folks who, for one reason or another, had a mom who couldn't or wouldn't be these things to in your life. I extend the amazing hug of my mother to you because her heart is that big, her soul so expansive that it blows me away that I even get to know her, much less got to be her oldest child.

Mother's Day is not here yet but I got it early this year. Actually. I have it every day.

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