I think the Bible got it wrong with the whole Adam and Eve thing. I just can’t believe Adam was created first. To believe that Adam was able to get along for all that time without a woman is to believe that he stumbled through Eden with mismatched socks and a hangover. The whole idea of Eve being created from Adam’s rib doesn’t make sense, either. Burps and farts, that’s what typically comes out of men. Then there’s the idea that man was created in God’s image. Have you taken a good look at your typical man? Do you really believe that is what God looks like?
To me, there is evidence of the divine in the female form, the smooth skin, the soft curves, the soulful eyes. There is grace in the walk, music in the voice. It is no accident women were created as such exquisite, sensual beings – so that man is motivated to not only perpetuate the species, but has reason to get up off the couch and turn off Sports Center every now and then.
Anway, tomorrow is Mother’s Day, the day we honor the first person we ever knew. My Mom is no longer with us, having passed away nearly seventeen years ago. I miss her terribly, and it hurts me to know that my sons were too young at the time to have any lasting memories of her, and my daughter wasn’t born yet.
Much of the first five or so years of my life was spent making my Mother’s life miserable. Easily distracted and hyperactive, I seemed to save my worst behavior for public outings with my Mom, simultaneously embarrassing and exhausting her on a consistent basis. There were episodes in grocery stores, the one where I went up to a strange old lady, stomped as hard as I could on her foot, taking her pained reaction of “oh, my corn” as my queue to stomp even harder a second time. There was the time when I was running up and down the frozen food aisle when she was finally able to grab me by my arm, prompting my dramatic plea, “No, no, I’m too young to die!” There were episodes in Doctor’s waiting rooms, toy stores, anywhere there was a public gathering. I had a fascination with trains, and I remember one time, she took me to the train depot to watch one come in – looking back on it now, I wonder if she had plans of throwing me in front of it, but lost her nerve at the last moment. No juror who had ever witnessed my behavior would have convicted her.
Eventually, I largely (but never really completely) outgrew my need to be the center of attention, and for the most part learned to behave myself. I made up for all the grief and embarrassment I caused when I was little by keeping out of trouble when I was older. I turned out to be, thanks to her firm patience, a pretty good kid.
My Mom and Dad were both blessed with wonderful but different senses of humor that blended perfectly, so they were lots of fun to be around. Their arguments were legendary and better than anything on television, my favorite being the on-going debate around my Dad’s theory that hot water froze faster than cold water and my Mom’s exasperated repudiation of his fractured logic and fabricated science. My Dad enjoys being the center of attention (explaining much of my behavior as genetically influenced), and has a very broad sense of humor and penchant for mischief. My Mom’s sense of humor was a bit more subtle and sophisticated. I always loved making my parents laugh, especially my Mom – she was so damned smart, if she laughed, then you knew it had to be good.
One of my favorite things was getting my Mom to do stupid things. When I was 17, I had a Polaroid camera and went through a phase of staging intentionally bad “avant-garde” photos that I would put together in an album as a collection of stupidity. There was the photo I shot of one of my Mom’s bowling trophies strained through the webbing of a tennis racket (titled, “The Ghostly Bowler”), the photo of our bathroom plunger set on top of the piano bench juxtaposed against the forest tapestry that hung on the living room wall (titled, “Plunger in the Wilderness”), there were a series of shots of my tennis shoe clad right foot against varying backdrops. But my favorite was the morning my Mom came out in her yellow bathrobe and her hair in curlers. In a burst of inspiration, I handed her the vase off of the dining room table, and she held her pose as I went and got the camera and captured the image, a slightly confused but pleasant expression on her face. With her standing in her robe and holding the vase like a torch, I had no choice but to title the photo, “Mom of Liberty”. Upon viewing the photo, she sighed her familiar exasperated sigh, and asked again, “Why do I do all these stupid things you ask me to?”
I remember my Mom’s last Mother’s day, in 1994. We had gone up to visit her, all of her kids and grand kids were there. I remember her getting a big kick out of my son Nick, not quite four years old, telling his favorite joke over and over (“what’s yellow, lives in a tree and says “meow”? A very mixed up banana”), the same way she use to laugh at my big joke when I was that age (“why did the fire engine wear red suspenders? To keep its pants from falling down”) She was already sick and deteriorating, but she was able to enjoy having everyone there. It was a beautiful day, and one of the best of her final days.
Now, my kids are older, and I’ve had the opportunity to watch them grow up and observe their relationships with their Mother, my wife. I see many of the same things I experienced, and when I see the joy they clearly experience when they make their Mother laugh, I’m reminded of my own Mom. The only difference is that now, through my wife’s eyes, I can also see the happiness those same moments bring her, and looking back on my Mom, I know now that those goofy moments we shared meant as much to her as they did to me.
I take great pleasure and comfort in knowing this.