It was a year ago today that Mom died.
It’s been fast and it’s been agonizingly slow.
I took today to do some things that Mom would have liked. I listened to Stan Kenton, I went to mass, and tonight I’m going to enjoy a glass of scotch.
My daughter Emily reminds me that Mom was not just the woman that we wrote about in that obituary a year ago. Mom was someone else, too.
My mom loved to smoke. It made her angry that it was so unhealthy for her. Mom loved a cocktail every night. Mom loved to laugh and she was usually game for our hare brained schemes when we would travel together. Her partners in laughter were Janie and Mason and Jim and Mary. Jim is telling St. Peter that same story about deer hunting, and Mary is serving the heavenly hosts “our favorite coffee” now – but we still get to laugh with the Wheelers. This is good.
Up for most things
I wanted to tell two of my favorite Mom stories from my general adult years. The first isn’t really a story so much as remembering Mom at my cousin Al’s wedding to Wendy in the Berkeley Hills. We had a day or two to sight see, and instead of taking Mom for crab we found some little sushi restaurant and made her eat raw fish. Mom really wanted a spoon for her miso. Nope. We made her drink it out of the bowl. She was so so patient with us – Sam and I were traveling together for the first time on that trip, and we were just figuring out how to deal with the fact that I have no innate sense of direction! That trip we also made it to the Muir Woods – it was so beautiful, and I will always remember that we did get there because at the last trip to CA, she had no pulmonary strength at all and couldn’t have made the walk.
My Mom, Rock ‘n Roll Goddess
But my FAVORITE Mom story is from when we went to see Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young at the United Center. We’d been to Ravinia a ton of times with Mom, so going to hear aging folk-rockers was no big deal My sister and her husband John organized four tickets to the show and we were up on one of the mezzanines, straight in front of the stage. Mom leaned over to me at 8:05 and said, “Shouldn’t it be starting soon?”
“Ma – it’s a rock concert – no way.” And the lights dimmed and the opening chords of Carry On began. Okay – and then we hear –
“Psst – John…” it was his friend, the manager at the Center. They had four unsold tickets closer up. He had to wait until the show started to give them to us, so we were to follow the usher and he’d take us to our seats.
So, to the band singing “Carry on, love is coming to us all….” we were led to seats, third row, center.
And the show was incredible. They sang for hours. Graham Nash wore no shoes all night long. At about the point where most of the band went off for a break and Neil Young stayed on to share some of his solo career hits, it was clear that David Crosby had noticed my mother: the tall, white haired woman in the middle of the third row who had been standing and singing along all night. He kept pointing and winking and applauding toward Mom. And she was clueless!
By the time the show was over, she had made eye contact with him – she couldn’t stop laughing. The guy at the edge of the stage told her if she wanted to go back stage he was sure that would be okay. Mom shook her head, laughed, and headed to the car at the end of the show.
My ears rang for quite a while, but it was a great night.
And that’s Mom. Rock and Roll babe.
“And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure . . . And your friends will be properly astonished to see you laughing as you look up at the sky! Then you will say to them, ‘Yes, the stars always make me laugh!’ – from the Little Prince.