Mom

Mom,

I miss you today, more so than usual, since it’s Mother’s Day.  You left two years ago, while in the hospital; you waited until I walked outside to make a phone call, and when I came back, the look on the nurse’s face as he walked toward me was all I needed to know. If you were still here, you would have been without a foot, as they wanted to amputate it when the sore on it from being bandaged got so bad that nothing else could be done, and it wasn’t healing because you had no circulation in your leg from the stroke, and your skin was so fragile.  I was told that even if the decision was made to amputate the foot, that you still might not make it, as you had an incredible amount of blockages in all of your arteries.

There was no one else to help me with deciding what to do, and when I asked you what you wanted to do, you said you wanted to keep your foot.  I still don’t know if it was the right decision, but it was the one that I made.

My earliest memory is of you singing to me when I was in my crib; you  usually sang “Would You Like to Swing on a Star?” I think I remember that because it had so many verses, and choices; I could be a mule, or a fish, or a pig, and that was pretty neat.

Would you like to swing on a star
Carry moonbeams home in a jar
And be better off than you are
Or would you rather be a mule

A mule is an animal with long funny ears
Kicks up at anything he hears
His back is brawny but his brain is weak
He’s just plain stupid with a stubborn streak
And by the way, if you hate to go to school
You may grow up to be a mule

You loved Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin, among other crooners.  I grew up with music, dance, art, and books, because of you and Dad, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I’m all right most days;  and I miss you when the going gets rough, like it has been today. I like to think that you are with Dad, and Steve, and Naomi – give Asia a big hug for me. I love you, Mom.

Father’s Day – within and without

I miss you, Dad.  Today is Father’s Day, and if you were here, we would probably be having a barbeque at the house; you would cook burgers, and Mom would make her “salad,” which consisted of peas, green peppers, chunks of cheese, and chopped cucumbers in Miracle Whip (I may have to make it today, just because).  You would be drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon, or Milwaukee’s Best (because “beer is beer,” which I believe is one of your armchair quotes, along with “the slam dunk should be outlawed; it’s not basketball!”), and bugging me about eating too many potato chips, even though you never gained a bit of weight in your entire life, except for a little beer belly. Your line (and it used to bug Mom, too, since we were both career dieters) was “Hell, all you have to do is eat less!”  Fabulously uninformed advice, since you never had to go on one diet; still, I loved you for it, even if I just maybe didn’t know it at the time.

Later today, we would hang out in the back yard, or watch baseball on TV. If there wasn’t a game on, we would watch an old movie, and you and Mom would debate who was in the movie:  “Is that Danny Kaye?”  “Nooo, Red Skeleton.”  “Remember his show that used to be on Tuesday nights? It was so funny!” “Who’s the actress? Virginia Mayo?” “I think it is!”  (I remember when I was a kid, waking up on the weekends to the sounds of the radio coming from the kitchen, and you and Mom doing the same thing there: “Who is that? Perry Como?” “I think it’s Frank Sinatra in his younger days.” “Remember when we went dancing that night and they played this song?” )

I know now that part of the reason that I was able to get through the last ten years was because of you, Dad.  You taught me so many things – how to spell and read and ride a bike, how to play basketball, baseball, blackjack and poker; and one of the things that I know that you and Mom both taught me how to do, just by the way that you both lived, was to keep going. I’ve kept going, through all of the pain and the loss of everyone who would have been here at the barbeque today, and I just want to say thank you for everything.  You were so much better at the dad thing than you ever knew, and if I made wishes, I would wish for the chance to tell you in person. Since I’m not able to do that, this will have to do – I wouldn’t have wanted any other dad but you, Dad.