I don't know how I got so lucky to get Mom as my mom, and I have absolutely no idea how such a level-headed pillar of amiable strength got such a stark raving maniac for an eldest son, but she was the best piece of luck I ever got in my life, and while I'm reasonably sure that many people already think she is a saint, I can assure them that her saintliness is only more miraculous if you ever got to know her better. Somehow she has born all the lumps of the giant personalities surrounding her with complete equanimity for nearly seventy years. Most of us don't deserve her, and if god forbid coronavirus took her rather than us, a bunch of us would probably fighting over the shovel to bury ourselves in the plot next door.
She's almost seventy now, facing down the era of coronavirus during what should be the era when her herculean labors reap their ultimate fruits. Last Sunday she should have returned from a twenty-day trip to Panama and Columbia that was to be my parents' first vacation since she had to start ministering to Bubbie, now 99-years-old and sadly losing a step since an elective operation eighteen months ago wiped part of her memory. However unlikely it is, Bubbie is facing the small chance that she may never leave my parents' house ever again except for a stroll around it. Dad, of course, goes to the store at the drop of a hat, refuses to wipe down the groceries, goes to the office, and is constantly making noises about coming down to the beach house for a weekend, just tonight he mentioned it again during a Mother's Day family zoom: "Will you go to the store?' I ask him: "Of course." "Then I'll physically block you from coming in." "It's my house!" "Then you can have me arrested!".
...And yet Mom bears it all, as she bears all things, with sensible advice for every occasion we'd all do well to take more often, and a seeming go-with-the-flow ease which conceals a will of iron - an absolute determination to be the person the crazy people around her need her to be. Whether it's her mother and her century-long need to get her way, or her husband and his 75-year need for every spotlight, or her oldest son and his 40-year pendulum of mental states. Mom is there for it all, and bears it with the equanimity of the hidden righteous; a mother worthy of a Nobel Prize, an Abraham Lincoln of mom's who balances the needs of a team of rivals so deftly that her premature absence could set a whole country back by a hundred years.
Her unhinged eldest son, almost 40, who never married, and for whom it would be inadvisable to give her the grandchildren who'd love her as much as the rest of us do; her eldest for whom it all went wrong so long ago that barely anybody remembers what he once was, whose gifts were praised from birth as though everybody was his mother; whose extreme brain seemed to go off the deep end for a decade at a time with no return date listed, and therefore sentenced to an adult half-life of disgruntling limitations, a son only a mother could love.
And yet, what question has there ever been? Mom is my best friend. The person whom whatever the state of things, I make sure to speak to for an hour or more every day, who laughs at my jokes, who will listen to my ranting no matter how inconsequential, whom I know that whatever the differences of opinion the love is deep enough that anything said in the heat of the moment is just a momentary lapse in judgement (and of course, said far more often by me). She has always been Mom, the Mom without which my continued life would have been impossible so many times, and I can't help but worry would be impossible again in the future. I don't deserve her, and she most certainly does not deserve me.
I've always had the sense that Mom is worried that she never made enough of an impression on people, that she was always Mollie's daughter, Jack's wife.... 'that asshole's poor mother...' but nobody with a stronger personality makes the gigantic impression she does. So many of the quiet ones go through life thinking that nobody sees them, they think that they'd just fade in the background and nobody notices their absence, but if people like me faded into the background, the world would note the difference, and parts of it would consequently breathe a sigh of relief. But if people like Mom were truly in the background, the world would fall apart tomorrow, and people from every walk of life would howl in the streets. People like Mom are the ones who hold the world together. They inspire nothing but love in everyone whose lives they pass through, and somehow, I was lucky enough to be the son of a person like this.