Sunday, June 13, 2010

Twenty-First Century Family Ties

I realized with a start yesterday morning that today is (I believe), my Mom's birthday. We are, no matter what you are thinking right now, reasonably close. My mother raised six of us to adulthood without ever succumbing to the temptation to lose or drown any of us. Knowing me the way I do, I have to believe that couldn't have been an easy temptation to overcome, especially since while I was the first, I wasn't the worst.

Mom had a child, no names please, who used to lock her/himself in the school lavatory while in Mrs. Brennan's kindergarten, more or less out of boredom. My mother's husband, and our father (NOT named Art, though you could be forgiven for thinking so), was a schoolteacher who used to go manic when this happened. Mom was a bit more mellow-and used to advise Mrs. Brennan to go back to whatever she was doing and within ten minutes, her reluctant student would return like a skin-covered boomerang to the classroom. Sure enough, that's what happened every time.

Another of my siblings specialized in the art of the 'goodie bag'. A goodie bag was a plain brown lunch bag into which, as we wandered around behind Mom or Dad as they shopped, one of us would place items they wished to further explore outside the confines and strictures of the mercantile environment (= take stuff home without paying for it). This child very early in life developed a "what's mine is mine, but what's yours is negotiable" mindset that Mom always managed to overlook and forgive as she'd go through the day's catch as Kid Klepto readied for bed to make sure to return to the merchant all the items that had made the trip home with us.

My mother has survived the death of her spouse, catastrophic health situations and hardships and challenges of all varieties without a murmur of complaint. As I said, she raised six of her own and on more occasions than I'd like to recall she helped with advice on the two grandchildren of foreign manufacture. She came to visit us while we lived in (then West) Germany, earning the nickname Oma Amerika from our daughter, Michelle, who, because we'd picked Mom up at the Frankfurt Flughafen, thought for months afterwards that this was where Oma Amerika lived.

Mom was never a fan of snow. I can remember as a child bundling up to play outside in Wanamassa, the first home my parents owned in New Jersey and waving up at her watching from the living room picture window while building a snowman on the front lawn. Now when I call her, as I shall today because I completely blew the birthday card sending, I try to guess what time she'll be heading to the beach, as she moved to Florida about a decade ago and loves it.

She always calls me on my birthday, so in a way turnabout is fair play as she is really the woman who made me what I am, literally and figuratively-even when I'm not the most attentive child, or son, that has ever walked the planet. Happy birthday, Mom, love always and every good wish for many more birthdays to come.

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