May 9, 2009

Memories of Mom

"The Wonder Years" wasn't just a TV show to our family. Thanks to our mom, we are living a lifetime of Wonder Years. Mom gave us a love of reading. Trips to the library were a regular treat. One summer mom and I got caught up in one UFO book after another, and we literally scared ourselves into believing aliens would kidnap us at any moment. It was the best kind of scared to be, because I knew my mom would be kidnapped with me when the aliens came, and it would be ok.

Even when times were tough, Mom gave us the gift of music. She bought Susie a violin, me a trumpet, and Debbie, well, Debbie had to be different. She wanted to play the drums. When I think of the expense of buying those instruments today, I am in awe of the sacrifices she made for us.

Mom did the laundry, made our meals, painted the house, refinished the kitchen cupboards, kept the house clean, kept the yard nice. Mom tried her very best to feed us good meals, but we seldom cooperated. We hid liver in our baked potato skins. We'd fill our mouths with veggies, ask to go to the bathroom, and spit out the offending food.

When we were young, mom knew how to keep us busy. A favorite trick was to give us a salt shaker and send us into the back yard. She told us if we poured salt on a bird's tail, the bird would let us pet it. We fell for this scam for years. Mom got us on the local kiddie TV shows- Heck Harper, Ramblin' Rod, and Romper Room. In fact, one of my prized possessions is my autographed picture of Romper Room's Miss Dorothy, dated March 30, 1962.

There were times that mom got fed up with all of us. Once, she pretended she was a robot for three days. Whenever we demanded something from her, she would say, in robot voice, "I am not your mother, I am the perfect robot". Our mom knew how to tweak her kids and have fun at the same time!

Mom was the one who rescued our sister Trisha from the furnace room after I locked her inside. Mom was the one who made sure I had the right clothes to wear for band concerts, even when I gave her only an hour's notice.

Mom also introduced my wife Tana to the pleasures of an afternoon martini on their many shopping trips.

The least few years were hard for mom as she was less able to get around. Our family is eternally grateful to my sister Debra for taking such loving care of mom over the last few years. Debra's caring and compassion for mom as she made the transition from her old life to a new life away from pain and suffering will remain with me always.

The loss of a loved one is a difficult burden to bear. It may seem impossible, in our grief, to find understanding or comfort. There is little physical or mental comfort from grief in the short term.

I think the Greek poet Aeschylus said it best over two thousand years ago when he wrote, "He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep, the pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God."

Thanks, Mom! We miss you.

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