I miss my mother, now four years gone, eight since she was lucid. So many things that I miss, her honeysuckle perfume, Aigner purses, and southern banana pudding to die for. But the thing I miss most is the way she loved us.
Many people criticized my mother and for a variety of reasons, many of those well-deserved. One was the way she loved her children, for she spoiled us all. She had the kind of love that did not see past our faults, but didn’t see them at all, as if they fell in some spectrum outside of her visible light. Ultraviolet? Infrared? I really could shoot a man on Fifth Avenue and she would immediately say, “The fella must have deserved the shooting.” I’m sure that when I was a baby she saw gold glitter in my poop.
Mother told me as a boy that I would be the next John F. Kennedy … if I wanted. I would be the next Neil Armstrong, leaving the imprint of my Converse Allstars in Mar’s red dirt. I would build a ship and sail all seven seas. I would write books that would sweep the world away like her favorite, Gone with the Wind. That I, someday, would lead a great army to drive out all the evil of the world. That I would be the one to cure cancer … not get it.
I’m sure if Mother had loved us like Spock, (Benjamin not S’chn T’gai), giving us one cookie for finishing a plate of cabbage rather giving us a plate of cookies for just sniffing the cabbage, I’m sure I would have been a better man. But I guess its too late for that now, isn’t it?
The problem with spoiling love is that it ill-prepares you for the real world. Mother used to say, “Be kind to people and they will always be kind to you.” But once you are jettisoned out of her safe harbor, her little spoiling microcosm into the real world, you find it harsh. Those who invite you for a fresh morning coffee, bring a knife and fork to make breakfast of your soul. That for the one hundred that cheer for your success, a thousand pray for your failure. Why the thousand do that, I haven’t a clue. Maybe their mothers didn’t love them at all.
There are seasons to one’s life. Times when all goes well. Where whatever you touch turns to platinum. Where for every crystalline drop of April’s rain, the grass grows a deeper hue of green and the next bold flower erupts from the earth; then the yellow sun simmers in the summer sky like melted butter. But then there are seasons when whatever you touch turns brown and crunchy in your fists and beneath your feet and it is hard to see through the dim light of dusk. There it seems that life’s road is cobbled with inadequacies and mistakes. It is during those harder times that Mother’s bad love is missed the most.
If there is a silver lining to bad love, you know, the kind that Mother gave, it is that it could be the kind that God gives. Maybe. One could only hope.