It’s darn near midnight, and I realized I hadn’t written about Mother. Haven’t written to mother either, but that’s a matter of personal sloth and we won’t go into that here.
Mom’s still kicking at nearly 81 years, living in an assisted living community up North. It’s hard to write about one who has lived a life that could only be described as virtuous. I mean, it’s so much easier to have a little color, a little wine and song when painting the page of biography, isn’t it.
But there does exist a need for the quiet saints on this earth and my Mom, with the bright eyes and the hand quick with dishtowel and hoe, lives as blessed a path as anyone I’ll ever know.
The kids all managed to please their own Mom in some way today, be it by gift card or a dinner, or simply helping with the frenzy that is packing up a house in preparation for a move. I, on the other hand, having distanced myself from tooting Ally’s horn, stayed in the background and hauled boxes back and forth all day, sometimes in a totally errant pattern to be sure. We have an understanding, Ally and I. I agree not to call her Mommy and expect her to mother me and she agrees that I’m not the sort who needs that sort of nurturing anyway. She’s got three nearly grown children who play that role for her. So when one of them ask me “What did you get Mom for Mother’s Day?” I feel completely at ease telling them that “She isn’t my mom. And I’m exempt from spending money on her. She said so.”
They don’t buy it, but I didn’t come by the reputation of being crotchety by being a totally agreeable sort of fellow in these cases. Far from it.
Besides which, I’ve got an anniversary coming up on Tuesday. One that I won’t be worming out of by any stretch of the imagination. It’s not like it’s the 7th, or the 16th, or some other forgettable year. One of those “Whoops, it’s May the tenth again, better pick up burgers on the way home and let her put her feet up.”
Nope. It’s the 25th this go-round.
25 years of married life. Maggie the Middlest One was talking about it today, and she’s the social one of the clan, with more friends than can be imagined. She was waxing remarkable how no one she knows has parents that have been married that long, or are married at all. Most are divorced, at best there’s a mom or two working on the tenth year of the second marriage. Stuff like that.
I dunno. I guess I have no reason to doubt her. But I can remember my own parents having their 25th anniversary (and their 60th, for that matter) and a whole slew of their friends and relations had a 25th within a few years of them. It was just a common thing back then. Hardly a reason for standing agog at the wonder of it all. Now 50 years, that was considered an achievement, if only that the two were still alive to see that day.
Stu and his wife had their 25th a few years ago (married damn young, they did) and it was an all day / all night wing ding with caterers, a hired band and several thousand gallons of intoxicants. Tossed a pig on the cooker the night before and had two Port-a-Jons out back. That sort of thing. And near the end of it, having heard someone ask for the 25th time “What’s the secret to getting 25 years of marriage under yer belt?” a sleepy and thoroughly smashed Stu was wont to observe, “Well, at the rate I’m goin’ I doubt I’ll see 26, I kin tell ye that much.”
I don’t have that sort of immediate fatalism built into me. I know that if two people can both agree that the sum of their union makes for a stronger force than being two separate people you’ll tend to get a whole lot more mileage out of the thing. The sort of thinking that says “Shoot, I’d be better off by myself” is a killer to a relationship. But we’re conditioned to think that way in this culture. When you gear everything to a mindset that declares you to have an ass that deserves both the rising and the setting of the sun you’re in trouble from the start.
I took the rising sun years ago, and gave up on the setting. Ally never could get out of bed in the early morning anyway. So that worked out pretty well.
I can’t throw her a big party or even a high brow dinner come Tuesday. We’re moving outta here on the By-God 27th and we won’t have time to breathe properly until a couple of weeks after that.
At which point I’ll do the proper thing and stop by Burger King on the way home. Pick up a sack of food. Let her put her feet up. Seems like the right thing to do.
So long as she doesn’t make me call her ‘Mommy’. I’m just not gonna do it.
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