I behaved like one who mourns for his mother,
bowed down and grieving.
There is a black and white photograph that sits in my parents' kitchen. My dad pointed it out again to me at Thanksgiving, saying, "That's my favorite picture of your mom and me."
It was taken on the steps of the building where my parents were married. It basically shows a couple of kids in love. Skinny, smiling, arms around the other's waist, and wide-eyed. The promise of things to come is before them, the vast sea of possibilities. After that photo was taken, they walked down those steps into the rest of their lives.
Today is my mom's birthday. I don't anticipate mourning for my mother anytime soon, at least I pray not. However, when that dark day does come, I will be like the psalmist, bowed down and grieving; such is my love for my mother. I wonder sometimes if she believes that. Her firstborn has traveled far from her nest, in more ways than one. Much of the courage I've needed to travel comes from her wide-eyed love I knew growing up.
That picture in the kitchen is one of those archetypal photos; it shows an enduring essence of my mother. Today, she is still standing beside my dad. In recent pictures of the two of them, standing beside each other, there is the same feel: two lost shoes that found each other, a complete pair, so close that no sunlight is seen between them.
And she's still smiling. Somedays physical pain dares her to smile. And somedays the smile is blurred with tears as her firstborn and his family drive off after a visit always too short. But still she smiles. And that same wide-eyed-ness is there in my mother, after all these years. The promise of grandchildren before her, seeing them grow and graduate and marry and possibly even holding a great-grand-child is reason enough to get up and do it again. The other day my dad said if he died now he'd be fine, content with a life lived. My mother was quick to say, "Not me. I'm hanging around awhile longer."
Mom always ends a conversation with, "I love you." She has always done that. Maybe that was a vow she made on those black and white steps many years ago: "I will love this life and all that it brings me." Some might say that's a rote sentiment possibly devoid of meaning. To those people I say, "Maybe."
Happy birthday, mother of mine. I love you too.