Saturday, August 4, 2007
Yes, A Lady Does Do That
In this photo of my mother, she was twenty-one-years old and living la vida loca in Bad Godesberg, Germany, where she worked as a nurse for one of the city's top private ob/gyn's. At that point in her life, a desire to hit the highway and try her luck as a nanny in NYC was just beginning to bubble in her brain.
But at this particular moment, at this particular party, it's unlikely she was thinking about America. She was most likely thinking of her dreamy Greek boyfriend who was lingering just outside the frame. My mother had many fabulous boyfriends in her youth. She was loyal to none of them. I mean, a girl only had so much time.
Tomorrow, the day I hike my ass up La Luz, my mother would have been 68 years old. She died January 18, 2001 of a sudden heart attack. My grief over her death is a constant in my life – some days sharp and angry, others like a mild case of the flu, lingering just below the surface but not acute enough to prevent me from going about my life.
My mom taught me a lot of wonderful things: love for art and literature and finely crafted stuff, for the great outdoors, for baking and gardening, for life itself. Raised during World War II, she knew from grief. And from horrors few of us in our cushy middle class existences could ever grok to. But she made those horrors the exception in her life, not the rule. My mother knew there was no crying in baseball and she taught me that, too. She taught me instead to make happiness my primary purpose.
So tomorrow, when I'm sweating and stumbling up La Luz, I'll not only be thinking about my mom, but also hoping that she takes a moment to break away from that rockin' cocktail party in the sky and give me a nudge up the mountain. Just enough to bust me out of 18 minute mile land and into, oh, say 17.5 minute mile land. And I'll toast her when I get home and remember that every day is a birthday.