I’m in that insane greeting cards store – and it has already erupted in pink and hearts for the next Big Holiday. I’m lost, standing there among the candles, picture frames, dust collectors, stuffed animals and expensive chocolate. They don’t sell books, fresh coffee, Apple stuff or shoes, so I’m really out of place here.
“Do you need some help?” the young brunette behind the counter asked, smiling.
“I need the impossible,” I said. “The perfect birthday card for my Mom.”
“We have a big section over there,” she said. She pointed to a long rack on the south wall.
Wow, did they!
Card makers clearly believe that every mother loves pink. And flowers. For some reason, when I think of my Mom, I don’t think of the color pink. Red, maybe?
Engulfed in pre-printed sentiments, I was wearing out. I soothed myself with the thought of a post-shopping latté at the coffee shop across the parking lot. Why is it that there’s nothing in-between the slurpy-to-the-point-of-being-ridiculous and the vague-emotions-just-because-it’s-my-mom-and-I-have-to-give-her-a-card?
“Mothers do the nicest things. They have that loving touch. A special kind of thoughtfulness that always means so much.”
It gets worse:
“Your kindness takes my breath away and your good nature melts the heart.”
Then, there’s the other extreme:
“Mom, good thing I got stuck with you! ‘Cause I got the best one!”
“You’re the bees’ knees!”
Our memories intermingle; I can’t tell where hers end and mine begin. We fill in the spaces of joy and pain for each other. We can still reach all of those flashbacks – even the ones that stretch back for years. Mom, here are a few:
Cow Patty Cookies
My son – at 17 – calls her “one of my best friends.” My daughter says she is “amazing” and “there is no one like Nana.” Here’s a short list of things everyone should know about her:
• She loves football and is not just a casual viewer. She knows the game. She records games that come on too late at night.
• She loves coffee and root beer.
• She is competitive and razor-sharp at Mexican dominoes, board games and card games. (Bradford friends: Bingo is no fluke!) When I recently asked her to join in a game of Spades, she said she hadn’t played in a long time and wasn’t sure if she remembered how. She then proceeded to kick my … well, let’s say, tail.
• She has a life-long relationship with God.
• She is kind to everyone – unless, of course, you cross her, one of her children or – heaven forbid – a grandchild.
• She has a knack for communicating with animals and children. In fact, she attracts them.
• She has always had a beautiful voice and led the singing in the little church we attended years ago.
• She has an uncanny ability to find things.
• She is not into arts & crafts but has made beautiful T-shirt quilts for her family.
• My dad, a college student at the time, cleaned up and went to church because he wanted to meet her.
• Yes, that is her real hair color.
• She has rescued many of my houseplants and the roses outside my front door bloom because of her.
Here are a few adjectives: beautiful, resilient, intelligent, street-smart, funny, sarcastic, wise, generous, experienced.
When I was 12, I wrote on January 31 in my first diary, which had been given to me by my mother:
“Mother’s Birthday (with a drawing of heart). Mom is sick with a cold. Vicki and I gave her a lemon-scented candle and a card. Dad gave her a cake. Julie gave her a panholder made of clay.”
I know the sentiment has been printed on millions of cards. This time, it’s real.
I love you! Happy Birthday!
|San Diego, 1994|