Today is my mom’s birthday. She has been going around her house singing 76 Trombones. That should give you a clue as to how old she is. My mom and I are lucky to have a close relationship and a very strong friendship. She and I were together for my first four years of life and then she married my step-dad. By everyone’s admission, including hers, that was a big mistake. She was single, 24 years old with a 4 year old child living in Hot Springs Montana and not too many prospects.
The man she married had a college education and a good job. My mom was raised in a family in which her mother was the breadwinner for seven children because my grandfather was ill, perhaps the possibility of marrying a good provider trumped other attributes. My mom was in an unhappy and unhealthy marriage for 30 years.
After my dad’s death, my mom came into her own. She took up ballroom dancing, went on cruises, traveled a great deal and moved to California. She had a boyfriend who was 20 years younger than she, the same age as me.
These were difficult times for my mom and me. I had the horrifying realization that I actually preferred my mom as an oppressed woman. She had been an amazing caregiver, homemaker, and I liked believing that her greatest joy was to care for her children. I didn’t want this hot babe that was younger than me for a mother. To see that my mom had other aspirations that I didn’t share and wasn’t particularly interested in was not easy. Plus, I was in a relationship with a woman and that wasn’t her greatest desire for me either. We both learned to accept each other for who we were and not for who we wanted the other to be.
Now our relationship is better than ever. I would want her for a friend even if she wasn’t my mom. She has a great sense of humor and amazing vitality. I will call her and she’ll say that she just doesn’t have the energy she used to have. She was only able to wash and wax the car, paint the garage, and reupholster the couch. She just can’t seem to get much done during the day. I always tell her that I need a nap after just listening to what she’s done.
My mom takes risks and tries new things. She and her boyfriend ran a hot yoga studio when my mom was in her 60s. I don’t know if you have ever had the pleasure of doing yoga in a room that is at or above 100 degrees.
I took some hot yoga classes from my mom and for the novice yoga participant; it is the longest 90 minutes of your life. In fact, the first 3 minutes of class are some of the longest minutes you’ll ever spend. Mom has recently started taking Argentine tango lessons.
While my mom doesn’t have a college education, she’s incredibly well-read. She is proud that she’s a member of Mensa and she always knows more of the Jeopardy answers than I do. She can tell you about a movie she’s seen and her description will be so good you’ll think you saw the movie too. She loves theatre and musicals and is willing to do things as long as they end before 5:00 in the evening. In fact, my aunt saw my mom’s car out on North Reserve at 4:30 one afternoon and my aunt asked me what my mom was doing out at that time of night.
One of mom’s weirdest idiosyncrasies is that she loves cooking and cleaning. Even though she lives by herself, she cooks amazing meals. She offers to clean my house and my car and while this doesn’t reflect particularly well on me, I let her. She painted my entire house five years ago and I didn’t do too much to help except to point out where she missed a spot.
Mom isn’t afraid of aging. She doesn’t particularly like it and she has had some physical ailments but she’s a person who is content with her life. This doesn’t mean that mom has thrown in the hot-babe towel. In the past couple of years she has taken to wearing false eyelashes, not because she wants people to notice her, but because she feels good wearing them. She wears them when she’s out mowing the lawn and there isn’t a soul around.
I respect and admire my mom. She is a great example of someone who, like all of us, has made some really big mistakes, but she can acknowledge them, and let them go. She’s not burdened by the things she’s done wrong. She has some of the best attributes a person can have. She is kind and generous. She is a person you can depend on to help out when you need it. She will go the extra mile for you and she will tell you that it’s a privilege for her to be able to do it.
I feel like things have come full circle with us. When I was young I was in awe of my mom. I didn’t really know her, I spent some time being judgmental of her, and then came to see her for the amazing person she is and I am in awe of her again.
I wish my mom many more years of dancing, cooking and cleaning, great visits together, and whatever her heart desires. This is Terry Kendrick, thanks for listening.