08 May 2016

Thanks, Ma -- Reflections on how cool my mother was

I saw this image over on Facebook this morning, Mothers' Day, and it reminded me that my mother took me and four of my eleven or twelve year old friends to the very first Star Trek Convention on 22 January 1972 at the old Statler Hilton in New York City. I don't remember much aside from getting to watch The Ultimate Computer and the blooper reel on a big screen, fan art exhibits with lots of space-scapes painted on black velvet -- not to mention the semi-nudes of Lt Uhura and Yeoman Rand that captured my almost pubescent attention, and which my mother made sure we didn't linger near too long -- and I remember her buying us all lunch at a diner, grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, the indulgence of fries and a coke. It was the day I realized that my mother was cool, and cool in my friends' eyes, too. That meant a lot to me then, though the kindness and patience of it means far more to me now. 

But she was cool and kind and patient in so many ways. She also took me to baseball games and to libraries, to the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to book stores and toy stores, to operas and to Broadway plays, to art classes and to skating rinks. She helped me with my homework when I needed help, and made sure I did it even when I didn't. She led me to the well of knowledge and told me how good it tasted. She told me endless stories of her childhood in the 20s and 30s, of being a young woman during the war, of the city as it was then, and of my grandmother's people across the sea. 

She never once complained when she sent me out for a quart of milk and I came back two hours later with the milk, a new book, and no change. The grocery store was across the street, the nearest book store a mile away. She knew I heard a different drum than others heard, and was content to let me follow its beat. She knew that for me all roads led to book stores.

She showed me how to work hard, and how to be true. She showed me what love and tolerance and forgiveness and kindness and duty were all about, and in the best way possible: by her own ceaseless example. She showed me things I am only beginning to understand now, ten years after her death, lessons I cannot even articulate yet, debts I can only hope to pay forward.

Thank you, Ma. You were a jewel among women.

(No, that's not me in the photo.)

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