My Mom

My mom is about five foot two. She has been taller most of her life and she would probably claim to be closer to five foot four now, but she sort of disappears when you put your arm around her. She has become short enough to me that I need to keep her a few feet in front of me, or she simply flies under the radar.

To know my mom, you have to see her in her natural setting, which is anywhere that chaos is allowed to swirl. It isn’t possible to set her up in a pre-ordained situation and have her succeed the way she can if she is allowed to blaze a path directly through swampland. Schedules? Don’t talk to her about schedules. She understands just how flexible a schedule can be. Deadlines? Ha. Deadlines are for the dead, she is for the living.

Can she fold a napkin into a duck? No. Actually, maybe she can. But napkins are for cleaning up spills, and wherever she will be, there will be spills. So it doesn’t matter if it’s a duck or a crane or a goose, that napkin will soon be sopping up diet coke or coffee.

Does she clean up well? Sure. You can wrangle her into a suit or a nice dress. You can smooth down her rope thick chunk of horse’s main hair into a french braid and put her in a suit. But you should know that she doesn’t give a shit. There is no-one who cares less about her goddam hair in the world, and if she dresses in something even remotely fancy, you should know that she is doing it because she loves you, not because she cares at all.

Ian’s wedding this weekend was so many beautiful things. When I watched Ian and Tessa dancing and Rick sang, ‘and if a ten ton truck kills the both of us… to die by your side, well, the pleasure, the privilege is mine…’ it was heart breaking. The love Ian felt this weekend may finally convince him that his life is blessed, not cursed, that this feud with God has been won decisively in his favor. There were too many moments to dwell on any one, it was a weekend of love and joy.

But earlier, I walked in to where my mom had slipped on a beautiful dress and a gorgeous necklace and had wrestled her hair into an amazing braid and she just looked so sad. I asked her what was wrong and she said, ‘Ah, nothing… I just don’t look like the other girls. I feel frumpy.’

What a world we live in. You can talk about how teachers salaries should be NBA salaries and you can talk about how wrong the war is and how stupid our president is, but honestly, none of that breaks my heart. My mom is a giant intellect, a talent unmatched in anyone I have ever known. My mom measures with the inside of her hand, she listens with the bones in her breast, she experiences all of us, not just people but everything, with an eardrum that constantly beats in time with God’s vision of the world.

I have been there when she has said, ‘change that to a B flat’ or ‘let it bake for five more minutes’, or ‘she loved you as best she could, she just couldn’t love you very well, and you’ll be okay- you will be okay.’ I have been there for those moments and a million more that suddenly changed not only the small things in our lives into perfection, but smoothed my savage breast and made the entirety of my life livable.

We have the things that we remember to honor and celebrate. And with my mom, she may be standing too close for us to remember, she might just simply be too short to be in our eyesight all the time. But the timetable of my life has a clock next to it that is the timetable of hers, her view of anything is the view I measure mine against, and, if she were to ever sit down at my table she would hold the seat of honor.

Until, of course, she got up, grabbed her machete, and started blazing a new trail for me to be blown away by and hopefully follow.