As I mentioned in the last post, my mom was recently here to visit me in Germany. When you live away from home, whether it’s 100 miles or a 1000, a visit from a loved one is a cherished event. A piece of home right at your doorstep, a familiar face down the hall. Even though it is almost always too short, no matter how long the stay, I will now list the reasons why a visit from one’s mother, and my mother specifically, is so important to the long term happiness of those living past the comforting boundaries of our dear Upper Peninsula.
1. My mother is my past. My mom knows me most closely from the moment I began to move. She remembers all my tantrums (though fewer than my sister’s), phases (some short-lived, some ongoing) and bad hairdos (some much more hideous than others…why would she let such a curly-haired person get a perm or use a Wilson Phillips tape cover as a model for a haircut?). She watched me thrive and let me fail, putting in the occasional words of advice that I would refuse to heed on mere principle. She knows all the moments that led me up to now, even the ones that I was too young to remember myself.
2. My mother is my future. No matter which side of the Clark-Pappas divide you stand on, it cannot be denied that I resemble my mother. And perhaps more important than our current likeness are the similarities we shared when at the same age. My mom’s college graduation photo is a mirror image (frizzy hair and all) of my own. So as I look at my mom, I can literally see my future, and folks, the future looks good!
3. My mom is crazy. Crazy for me, that is. Although I now rely on most of my affection to come from my beloved and adorable David, knowing my mom is out there loving me so intensely that she doesn’t even sleep (and I mean this literally) is a comfort. My mom knows I’m irrational with a tendency for lashing out emotionally, and she loves me. My mom knows that I don’t like ketchup and no I don’t want to try it, no not even on french fries…and she loves it. My mom loves the look on my face while I’m sleeping and the way my hair looks first thing in the morning. That’s what I call unconditional.
4. My mom completes the trifecta. The power of women in my life has always been strong, hence my sassy mouth and bad attitude. And though I want to call her a girl, I have to admit that the woman most dear in my life is my sister. And my mom’s ok with that, because she made it this way on purpose. She knows that statistically speaking, Alley and I will have to rely on each other after she’s gone. She taught us that our female friends, the sister being the most exalted of those, will always have a place in our life and should be treated with the utmost respect. By teaching us this, she has created a very volatile but predictable triangle of strong women. If she tells me something and asks me not to tell my sister, she knows full well it will take about 15 minutes for the news to get back to her…via my sister. We keep each other’s secrets by not keeping secrets from each other.
5. My mom loves Dave. And I don’t mean she “loves” Dave like you might love ‘Desperate Housewives’ or chocolate cake. I mean she really cares for him. She loves him for loving me the way he does, but she also loves him in his own right for being an intelligent, kind, strong person who laughs at jokes about farts and enjoys a good, greasy hamburger.
6. My mom and I became the cliche…a mother and daughter who became friends when the daughter was all grown up. Is that not just the perfect and most annoyingly cheesy Hallmark card? But it’s true. We laugh together, we gossip, we tell sad stories and then take a drink together. And like any true friends, we bicker, purposely push each other’s buttons and worry too much about each other. We’re bitchy like that.
7. My mom has my dad. Even when they aren’t together, like on her most recent visit to Germany, my dad takes care of my mom and my mom watches over my dad. We all love my mom for her passion, her moods (well, not all of them) and her eccentricities. But we also know that without my dad, these traits would add up to more of a wrathful mental illness rather than charming personality bonuses. My dad stands in the midst of the trifecta of previously mentioned strong women and holds his own while letting us whirl about madly, screaming feminist epithets and the odd profanity for emphasis. My dad gives comic relief (his tag line is “It’s a joke” because sometimes we just don’t know) and rational perspective. He also packs the dishwasher with amazing efficiency and protects us from the elements with his weather radio.
I’m a lucky, lucky girl to have a mom who is able and enthuisastic to visit me. She’s a lucky, lucky woman to have to great friends like Carol and Evelyn to join her on an amazing ‘girl’s only’ trip across Europe. Our guest rooms are officially broken in, and the house is cleaner now that it was when she arrived.