There’s not a person in this world who has your back more than she does, or should. When no one else believes in you, it is her voice on the end of the phone that reassures you that yes, you CAN do this. When your father kicks you out of the house, your mom is the one who puts all of your stuff up in her place, no questions asked.
When I broke my arm, it was up your driveway I ran crying, and it was you who drove me to the ER breaking every applicable traffic law in existence in the year 1984. When I broke a heart, and when my heart was broken, it was you who I called in the middle of the night to seek assurance that I wasn’t at my core, a bad person. Your hesitance at addressing that point notwithstanding, I felt your heart aching with mine. When I ignited and torched my hand and arm while trying to light the pilot in my shitty little single wide trailer at 1am, it was you, the nurse, I called, to which you responded “Are you drunk? Ok, next question, are you okay?”, then took me, again, to the hospital.
When Dad left, and it was you and me and a cat versus the world, it was you who never stopped working to try and make our lives better. You cooked delicate meals, endlessly, in your kitchen, one leg hiked up against the other, ever present cigarette in your free hand, leaving me so tempted to yank those apron strings with each pass I made through the kitchen. You ran your own business, you were a pioneer as the first female president of the America Society of Travel Agents, you interviewed Air Force Brass for Chamber of Commerce positions (or something like that), you taught me what fork goes where, you drove too fast in your French car, and you tolerated my questionable taste in music stations. When you met the man who would become the more stable father figure in my life, you took me along on your dates, because in your eyes, if the guy didn’t get along with me, or I didn’t like him, there was no point. I was first in your eyes, and in your heart, and no kid could ask for more than that from their mother.
While my actual father may have been the crazy character in my life, you were my rock. You spent most of my childhood rolling your eyes at my antics, but you never stopped loving me. We went on your business trips together, which forged me into the wandering, independent soul I would become as a man. They were OUR adventures, and I cherish the memories so very much. I always wanted to make you laugh, and you’ve always been so damn appropriate, I made it my personal goal to make you spit your wine out onto the, naturally, freshly pressed white linen table cloth that graced our table. You didn’t fire me when, as a kid, I ate the entire skin of your Thanksgiving turkey off the plate while you and your guests were kibitzing in the living room. You were disgusted with me when you found out that, at the age of 10, I placed a room service request of 17 side orders of bacon on a business trip, just to see if I could eat that much bacon in one setting, but yet you didn’t stop loving me. When I wanted to work on an island in the West Indies at age 12, you encouraged me to take that job with your business partner in Antigua for a summer. When I needed to venture out to boarding school, to fly from your nest, at age 13, it was you and my stepfather who figured out HOW to make it happen, while simultaneously fending off threats of a lawsuit from my father. I was astonished when I got my acceptance letter and showed you and you cried, both tears of joy and tears derived from the knowledge that I’d be leaving, for good, too soon. Now, as a parent, I find myself weeping on a semi-regular basis when my children do those things that children do to establish their own identities, and I understand where yours came from.
We have 2000 miles between us now, and although you’ve raised me to be independent, I still need you, Mom. I’m trying to raise my boys to be the kind of young men you would be proud to love. They have a good mom, one who loves them the same way in which you love me, and I’m grateful for that, too. As we grow older and I no longer feel the urge to constantly declare my independence in this world, I hope you know that the ties that bind are as strong as ever. I still call you when no other would listen to my rants and raves. I still long for your fried chicken dinners and our banter around the dinner table.
I love you, Mom.
I couldn’t ask for one better, and I hope you know how much you mean to me, to my boys, to our world. And I hope you know that the next time I’m in your kitchen, I’ll still be amused to yank your apron strings, hoping to hear the words “You’re such a creep, young man”, just one more time.