Saturday, March 05, 2011

My Best Friend

Reposted from August 2010

This is the 16th anniversary of my mother's death. I just can't believe it. On the one hand, it seems like yesterday. On the other hand, like another galaxy far, far away. Either way, I still miss her so much. This one's for you, Mama.

After months of allowing things to pile up and pile up to the point I could not stand being in here anymore, I finally tackled the impossible task of filing in my office.

In a folder whimsically named "things to save that aren't bills," I found two old papers that surprised me. One was a 30 year old transcript I used to memorize the fawning introduction of my boss I used to have to give at client meetings when I worked on Wall Street. That was pretty amazing in its own right, but it was the second one that stopped me in my tracks.

Though it was undated, it contained a few details that provided a date for me. I was driving, so it had to be after October, 1970. But I was still in school - in fact, a senior in high school, so it had to be before June, 1971. And anyway, I recognized the paper, and the brown flair pen I used to write it, and knew immediately what it was.

Whatever the precise date, it was nearly 40 years ago - a sort of tribute to my mom. Maybe it was her birthday, or Mother's Day. I'm not sure.

But what struck me about it was that I felt we were friends.

I knew we were friends after I was old enough to relate to her as an adult. In fact, I knew we were best friends.

Who else but your best friend would rack up $300 long-distance bills to call you when you couldn't afford it, even though she couldn't afford it either?

Who else but your best friend would leave a sick husband and fly 1000 miles to sleep over and chatter with you all night on the night before your wedding, and when the toilet in the empty upstairs apartment overflowed while she was in the bathroom the next morning would good naturedly grab an umbrella and sit on the toilet with an umbrella over her head and act like nothing was unusual??

Who would run down the street to intercept the mail truck before it got to our house to grab the letters I wrote home from England that summer so she could edit out the profanity before Daddy read them?

But, I also remembered a couple of turbulent years when we were not best friends.  Then, there are the years I don't remember at all.

So, I guess I was surprised to see the written evidence of how I felt about her when I was 16.  By the way, I have x'ed out a couple of details that would be recognized by some of my Facebook friends from high school that would just be too embarrassing.

Not long ago there was a contest
sponsored by WSB
the purpose of which
was to determine whose Mum was best
as based on a statement
submitted by the loving offspring
in twenty-five words
Or Less
I never entered the contest
(though the thought crossed
my mind once or twice)
Because I knew I could not
Condense my reasons into
Said twenty-five words
And besides
It wouldn't be fair to the
other contestants
since you are without question
the one they would have chosen...
that is, if I could condense
into twenty-five words or less
why you are at least as outstanding as
Ethyl Kennedy
If I could've written a long story
or even a short story
I might have considered
"My mother is best because..."
Such originality would have
won it for you
then possibly they'd have
read on to see what else I said
"...she never complains even
after hearing what XXXX XXXXXX
did at school for the 48th time.
In fact, I can tell her most
anything I do
and I know she will have
done something at least as naughty
when she was small
She lets me find out things
the hard way when she has repeatedly
warned me of the consequences
but she never says
"I told you so"
even if what she told me so
would have prevented restriction
or a similar punishment
I have fun when I'm on restriction
She helps me along from time to time
and keeps me out of Daddy's reach when
arguments are inevitable.
But at the same time
if I'm mad at her
she's mad too
and if she yells at me
I yell right back
I'd hate it if she just stood there 
and did nothing
It takes the fun out of arguing.
If I hate people
she hates them too
and we twirl our handlebar moustaches
while we're thinking of ways
to take revenge
Nyah, nyah nya-ah
And she doesn't mind me lounging at XXXX
On Saturday afternoon in her car
while she's at home
taking me up XXXXX XXXXX Avenue
past XXX
provided we're on our way somewhere
like last time we were on our way
to the library
which couldn't be more than
five miles in another direction.
See what I mean?
And when I go out to Steph's
She doesn't tell me I can't go
Even though she sits home
and worries that I would
one day join the Black Panthers.
She doesn't mind the bats
that fly out of my room
when she comes in ho ho 
and she doesn't remind me 
to do my homework
more than 37 times
a day..."
In another time
had me and my mum
met under slightly
different circumstances
we probably would still
have gotten along famously.
Because she understands me
and she knows that
the fact that she is my mother
does not interfere
with the fact that
she is my friend.

Miss you,  Mama.