First off, my wife Melissa, in addition to her many other talents, is a fantastic mother. She’s so good at it she doesn’t stop with our own two kids, but will mother just about anyone she thinks needs it — our dogs, neighborhood kids, random sketchy teenagers, Lucas’ college friends he brings home to hang out on breaks, and of course, me. As a parent, I would rate myself a pretty mixed blessing, but I think anyone would be lucky to have Melissa as a mother.
Second, my mother is awesome. I got off the phone with her a minute ago, and felt a little sad because she’s been through a lot of little health problems adding up to her feeling like shit the last couple weeks. I’m hoping that her reactions to her meds settle down, her root canal stops aching, etc.
The thing is, when we were kids, things were pretty tough and chaotic for all of us, for reasons that I won’t go here. Those few of you who know something of my mom’s life story, know that there’s been a lot of lurching from one pretty awful thing to another, and if you knew her 30 years ago, or 20 years ago, you’d get the impression that she was hanging by a thread. Her true brilliance was that she always managed to keep it together, for us kids. Even when she really was losing it, everyone got fed, kept from wandering out into traffic, and loved.
Now and for the past 15 years or so she seems to have found her feet, and has been able to live a relatively calm and happy life. Unfortunately that same period has brought trials, notably dealing with macular degeneration, which has slowly wrecked her eyesight. Luckily this started for her when the research into MD has started to pay off. She can still see well enough to do her work and get around. She walks everywhere around Astoria and the city, she goes to the gym, she walks her dog Hildy. So for someone within shouting distance of 80, she’s doing all right.
But we all know she’s only on loan for so long, and in talking to her today I think we both felt that. Woody Allen has a joke in “Annie Hall” about two jewish women in a restaurant: One says “the food here is terrible” and the other says “yes, and such small portions!” That’s the most unfair part of life: So much of it is scary and awful and hard, and you don’t get nearly enough of it.
I don’t pray but I wish more than anything that she can have as many years as possible to enjoy life, rail against those fucking Republican assholes, lose her car keys, brew cups of coffee and forget to drink them, write music, work in the recording studio, and see, however imperfectly, Barnaby and Lucy grow up. But most of all, I hope that she can continue to enjoy more relatively disaster- and tragedy-free years.