Timing is everything and if I wait until tomorrow to do this, she'll probably be at the beach, just leaving for the beach or returning from the beach. Tomorrow is my mother's birthday and when you live in Florida because you hate the snow of New Jersey that's how you roll.
My mom married my Dad shortly before she celebrated her twenty-third birthday and was my mother before she was twenty-four. She lived with and loved a man who loved her and all of us very much but didn't how to say it or show it. She could hear it and see it and that's all that really needed to count.
When I was a kid she was my intermediary in every transaction with my dad-walking a fine line between a proud man and a headstrong son who were so alike they couldn't see the forest for the family tree. She negotiated not only safe passage for me to adulthood but for all of my brothers and sisters to include the youngest three for whom she was all the parent they were to have at a critical point in their lives when Dad died.
My mother is not a sweet old lady-she is a tough broad who has stared into the maw of terrifying illnesses and diseases and never blinked. She doesn't meddle in the lives of her children or those of her grandchildren but when you ask her for advice, you get it with the bark off. When you buy a ticket from Joan, "Joanie" as her younger brother Jim always called her, you get the whole ride.
It was about four years ago, a bit more I guess, when we all traveled to Maryland, or Delaware, I've lost track, so our Mother could bury her brother, having already buried her youngest brother Paul half a lifetime earlier, and her other brother John and her older sister, Ann. It's just Mom and her sister Claire, and John's widow, Marion-The Girls, and it's always go time with the three of them.
Whenever I call her at the holidays, be it Christmas or Mother's Day, she's on beach time. Hell, I could call her on Two for Tuesday's at Hannafin's and she'd be calculating high tides at the beach which is on the other side of the road from where she lives. I promise her someday we'll get down to see her but I am my father's son and she knows that won't happen and she's okay with it.
I'll spend a great deal of time tomorrow trying to get her on the phone and when she answers she'll be surprised that I called as she always is even though I always do. Some Moms are frozen in a moment and others seize the day and live every moment of it and more. Happy Birthday, Mom. Life's a beach.