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Saturday, May 09, 2009  

MY MOTHER, MY SELF

PATTI DAVIS, DAUGHTER OF RONALD AND NANCY REAGAN, HAS WRITTEN A BOOK CALLED "THE LIVES OUR MOTHERS LEAVE US". THEIR DYSFUNCTIONAL RELATIONSHIP HAS BEEN DISCUSSED AND WRITTEN ABOUT AD NAUSEAM. IT APPEARS, HOWEVER, THAT THEY HAVE MENDED THEIR FENCES. GOOD. ALTHOUGH NANCY REAGAN NEVER SEEMED TO ME TO BE THE DOTING, CARING KIND OF MOM WE ALL WISH FOR, SHE AND HER DAUGHTER ARE OLDER NOW, AND, WE ASSUME, WISER ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF KEEPING THEIR RELATIONSHIP IN GOOD STEAD. NEEDLESS TO SAY, IT GOT ME THINKING ABOUT MY RELATINSHIP WITH MY MOTHER, WHO PASSED AWAY SIX YEARS AGO.

I HAVE SPENT MY ENTIRE LIFE TRYING NOT TO BE MY MOTHER. MY SISTER AND I HAVE A PACT: IF ONE OF US APPEARS TO BE CHANGING INTO OUR MOTHER, THE OTHER ONE HAS PERMISSION TO SHOOT TO KILL. IT ISN'T THAT SHE WAS PSYCHOTIC OR ANYTHING, BUT SHE WAS QUITE YOUNG WHEN HER CHILDREN WERE BORN, AND I'M NOT SURE THAT SHE EVER GREW INTO THE ROLE OF MOTHERING SO EASILY. AT HER FUNERAL, I DESCRIBED HER PARENTING STYLE AS "BENIGN NEGLECT". SHE WASN'T THAT MOM YOU COULD RUN TO WITH YOUR ADOLESCENT DRAMA AND GET COMPASSIONATE UNDERSTANDING IN RETURN. NO, INDEED, BUT IF YOU WERE HER FRIEND AND YOU WANTED TO HAVE A FEW LAUGHS OVER COCKTAILS AND A GAME OF POKER, SHE WAS THERE FOR YOU 1000%. I OFTEN WAS DRAFTED TO PERFORM THE BARTENDER DUTIES FOR SOME OF THESE GATHERINGS. AFTER A COUPLE OF DRINKS INTO THE GAME, MY MOM WOULD DEMAND TO RUB MY TUSHIE FOR GOOD LUCK. I DON'T RECALL THAT ANYONE ELSE IN MY LIFE EVER CLAIMED SUCH A BENEFIT.

I FIND, AS I AGE, THAT NOT ONLY HAS MY OPINION AND MEMORY OF HER SOFTENED SOMEWHAT, BUT I REALIZE THAT I HAVE BECOME MY MOTHER IN WAYS I HAD NOT EXPECTED. AMAZINGLY, THEY TURN OUT TO BE SOME OF MY BEST QUALITIES. WHEN I ASSESS HER LIFE WITHOUT THE FILTER OF MY DISAPPOINTMENTS IN OUR RELATIONSHIP, I REALIZE THAT SHE DEFIED THE ODDS IN MORE THAN ONE WAY. A WOMAN WITHOUT A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA, SHE BECAME A VERY SUCCESSFUL MORTGAGE BROKER AFTER HER DIVORCE FROM MY FATHER, EIGHTEEN YEARS INTO THE MARRIAGE. IT WAS THE ONLY JOB SHE HAD HELD SINCE BEFORE HER MARRIAGE, WHEN SHE WAS A SODA JERK AT WALGREENS DRUG STORE. SHE BEAT CANCER THREE TIMES AND WAS FORCED TO RE-INVENT HER LIFE JUST AS OFTEN. SHE LOVED TO LAUGH AND HAVING FUN WAS ALWAYS THE NAME OF HER GAME. HER LANGUAGE WAS AS COLORFUL AS HER CLOTHES AND HER HAIR. SHE WASN'T MUCH OF A COOK, SO MY SISTER AND I SAT UPRIGHT AT HER FUNERAL WHEN THE DEACON STARTED TO DESCRIBE HER AS THAT APRON-WEARING COOKIE-BAKING GODDESS WE KNEW VERY WELL WAS NOT HER. SHE WAS TOUGH AND VULNERABLE ALL AT THE SAME TIME. I MISS HER A LOT.

MY HEART GOES OUT TO ALL THE MOTHERS ON THEIR SPECIAL ONE DAY OF THE YEAR. MOTHERS SHOULD BE HONORED EVERY DAY, BECAUSE NO MATTER HOW GOOD SHE IS AT THE JOB OF MOTHERING, SHE'S DOING THE BEST SHE CAN.

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!






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