While you’re at it, go ahead and blame her for my love of words and writing, my voracious need to learn, and my chocolate addiction. I don’t blame her, though—I thank her every day.
Mom has always been the right kind of parent—one who actually parents; if I or my brothers did something wrong, we’d definitely hear about it, and be punished accordingly. I know … shocking.
No helicopter parenting, coddling, or shielding me from real life, and she actually let my brothers and me watch unexpurgated Bugs Bunny cartoons (!!!), Monty Python, and other things that probably would make the Parents Television Council spontaneously combust in shock. She also introduced me to The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock (books, movies and TV) and the sometime brilliance of short fiction … and the joy of spoiling a story’s ending as payback (don’t get me started on “The Two Bottles of Relish“).
And yet … I turned out relatively normal. Funny about that. Yeah, with a weird sense of humor, and more than a little mischievous, but still normal (after a fashion).
I’ve learned a lot from watching her.
It was Mom who taught me the difference between right and wrong, as well as educated me on the fallibility of stereotypes, which in most cases tell you very little about a person … unless he fits the stereotype to a T. And if he does … run.
She also taught me that a lot in this world that we worry about just isn’t worth the angst. Death, famine, abuse—yes, worry about that. Who has the upper hand or the most friends on Facebook … meh.
A few other things I’ve learned from Mom (believe me, there’s a lot more):
♥ A little paranoia is natural and healthy, but when you believe, without good reason, that everyone is out to get you (the government, libruls, random newspaper columnists), it’s time for a reality check. For most of us, there’s little reason to fear everything … except maybe that huge spider over there.
♥ Chocolate is a miracle. Not kidding in the least, and it’s not just the antioxidants in dark chocolate that studies show can help your heart, reduce stress, and maybe even help you lose weight. Now hand over the chocolate. I’m serious, people.
♥ You don’t have to let adversity win, whether it’s a major illness, a lost job, or anything else that tears you down. Pick yourself up and try again. If you fail again, you at least tried; if you succeed, a whole world of possibility can reveal itself … and possibly some relatives you didn’t know you had.
♥ Animals (especially cats, penguins and otters) are ridiculously cute, funny and entertaining, and you should make time to enjoy that. If you find no humor in them, you need help.
♥ How you react to stressors reveals a lot about your character. If you’re given a cancer diagnosis, do you just curl up in a ball (even though we all want to do that sometimes), or do you fight? If you’re my mom, you fight; while the cancer’s not completely gone, it’s a mere hint of its former self. Take that, tumor!
♥ Being principled isn’t the same thing as being deliberately obstinate; know when to compromise. It’s inevitable that you’ll come up against something that you just can’t handle, or some untenable argument. When continued fighting endangers the greater good, be the bigger person and extend an olive branch. There is great value in compromise and diplomacy, and very little in blind partisanship and inflexibility for the sake of inflexibility. Hey, Congress … think you might want to stop posturing for a few minutes to try it? Pretty please? Or do I have to send Mom up there?
♥ Laughter heals a lot of things, especially if it’s deep belly laughs. If you have the ability to laugh at the absurdities of life, that’s a good thing; it’s even better when you can find humor that isn’t at someone else’s expense. Goofiness is a virtue.
♥ Moderation isn’t a dirty word. Whether it’s eating, exercise, hobbies or politics, going to extremes is rarely healthy mentally or physically. I love chocolate, but I can put it away. I love cats, but have only one (large enough for three, but that’s another matter) … although it helps that Luke’s not a fan of other cats. Still, knowing when to say when is invaluable.
♥ Family, and not necessarily by blood, is forever. True family will be there for you when needed if at all possible. The kin you merely tolerate … yeah, they’ll be there, maybe, if something’s in it for them. If you’re lucky, they don’t live with you; if you’re not so lucky … well, dang it. There could be a reality show in it for you.
I won’t be with Mom on Mother’s Day, unfortunately, thanks to multiple appointments on the books to try to figure out my stroke origin. I will, though, be talking to her, as I do every day, and with any luck she’ll be chowing down by then on that praline pecan mix I ordered for her (she knows; we’re not great with secrets where gifts are concerned).
I have a lot to be thankful for as far as my mom goes, but most importantly, that she’s my mom. I can’t think of anyone better to keep us in line, and in such a sweet and loving way (and goofy, don’t forget goofy). I hope that in a few weeks I’ll be heading home with Luke to see her for a couple of days.
I’ve got a lot of hugging to catch up on.
On a completely different note, I’m sure most of you have seen or heard some of the best lines from the annual White House Correspondents Dinner. Stephen Colbert’s quip about reality having a liberal bias, made during a dinner hosted by Dubya, has always been one of my favorites.
I really need to sit down and watch the whole thing from this year when I have a chance, but I’ve seen bits and pieces, and Barack Obama really cracked me up (and if you haven’t seen it, you need to watch the anger translator sketch). Just a few of some of Obama’s best lines collected by Political Irony:
On Ted Cruz: “Ted Cruz said that denying the existence of climate change made him like Galileo. Now that’s not really an apt comparison. Galileo believed the Earth revolves around the sun. Ted Cruz believes the Earth revolves around Ted Cruz.”
On his bromance with Vice President Joe Biden: “We’ve gotten so close that in some places in Indiana they won’t serve us pizza anymore.”
On Dick Cheney: “A few weeks ago, Dick Cheney says he thinks I’m the worst President of his lifetime. Which is interesting, because I think Dick Cheney is the worst President of my lifetime.”
On his plans for his remaining time in office: “After the midterm elections, my advisers asked me, ‘Mr. President, do you have a bucket list?’ And I said, ‘Well, I have something that rhymes with bucket list.’ Take executive action on immigration — bucket. New climate regulations — bucket. It’s the right thing to do.”
On how history will view his presidency: “Just this week, Michele Bachmann actually predicted that I would bring about the biblical end of days. Now, that’s a legacy. That’s big. I mean, Lincoln, Washington, they didn’t do that.”
Remember that thing I said about laughing at the absurdities of life? That’s how ya do it.
Another plea for my Arkansas readers: We still need letters, so if you haven’t written lately, please do.
Sure, there’s a bit of a lull as far as news goes, but I know you guys can come up with something to keep me from going bald … I can’t carry that off.
Don’t make me make a wig from cat hair; I’ll look like Cruella De Vil!