Thursday, October 07, 2004

Happy 50th Birthday Mom

Originally uploaded by wonderbread74.
Most boys look up to athletes, firemen or their Dad (my Dad is alright, too). My hero is my mother.

She is the toughest person that I have ever known. You wouldn't know it though and that's the intriguing thing about her.

I want to thank my mother for some things:

Those who know my Mother, know her as a very kind and happy woman. My friend at work (who incidentally is also 50 today, Happy Birthday, bro!) always says, "Your Mom is a babe!" He's right.

I always tell women that I date that my Mom is the dream mother-in-law. She doesn't judge anyone and is always supportive. She might not verbalize her dislike of some things I do, but she let's me work through them and her support has always been valuable to me.

Thank you for giving me a normal American middle name. Thank you for teaching me skills like ironing, cooking, cleaning and washing clothes so I could become a independent man. Thank you for buying me that $38 aluminum baseball bat and telling Dad it only cost $20. Thank you for not being able to catch me and Suzie when we did something wrong. You were never able to maneuver around that coffee table to spank us, were you? Thank you for opening the trunk when Dad locked himself in it while fixing a light.

No thanks for always trying to sneak onions into your meatloaf. No thanks for trying to trick us into believing marshmallow creme could be a viable substitute for the real thing in Rice Krispies treats. No thanks for always being the last parent to pick me up from baseball practice. Just kidding.

Of course, there's more to my Mom than those memories.

When I was around 8, my Mom took me down to the park and hit fly balls to me. With a small aluminum bat she would hit a tennis ball over and over to me. It comes to no surprise that when I played Little League baseball up until 17 years of age, it was a rarity for me to ever fumbled a pop fly. Mother, I might need your help again. I had a tough season in centerfield this year.

Thank you for teaching me everything you know about cooking. In fact, my desire to learn came in my teenage years when I started disliking not her food, but her menu selections. I wanted to make spaghetti one day. She taught me the mundane fundamentals of browning the hamburger and simmering the sauce while timing its preparation with a nice al dente noodle. When I prepare any of my Mom's recipes success is always judged on the memory of her perfect creations.

Thank you for showing me how toughness is truly exhibited. About six years ago, doctors diagnosed her with breast cancer. At the time, it seemed as if she was shielding us from the seriousness of her surgery. It seemed to happen very quickly. Maybe she didn't want us to worry or maybe she was girding herself up for battle with this disease. I don't know. Within a few days we were visiting her in the hospital. I will never forget seeing her in that hospital bed. She didn't look tired and haggard after the surgery but strong and resolute. I saw pain on her face, though, that I had never seen before. I also saw the strength that I have come to know in my Mom.

There was a small, buzzer-like contraption next to her bed. Sort of like what contestants on Jeopardy might use. The button allowed the patient to release small amounts of morphine to battle any discomfort. My Mom never pushed that button even in her unmistakable pain. The nurse walked in and told her, "We don't give medals for bravery."

When Suzie was ill this same type of resolute strength was indispensable. On one of those first nights Suzie was in the hospital in a coma I had already begun to learn to emulate my Mom's toughness. The two of us sat around Kaiser's ICU believing in Suzie's recovery. As we walked to the parking lot, my Mom and I stopped and said goodbye for the night. At that point, we both broke down in each others embrace and said the same thing. "Suzie's tough, She'll get through this." My Mom believed it, I believed it and Suzie believed it. The fight that my sister put up against Lupus came out of the quiet tenacity that our Mom has taught us by example.

Even when Suzie passed away she didn't back away. She knew there was way too much work to be done and her positive attitude has lead us to a very healthy and happy future.

I hope I can be as heroic as you are for my own children. Thank you for being my Mother.

Happy Birthday Mom. I love you very much.