|My Mama Marilyn - isn't she beautiful!|
Let me start by saying, as I've often said before, that I have more blessings than any one human being deserves. At the top of that list is my Mama. Not Mother, not Mommy, not Mom - Mama. Every now and again, it's Mama Marilyn. That used to cross Daddy's eyes, me using her first name, but she just smiles that twinkly smile at me when I do it. She gets it - that I love her name and the way that it rolls off my tongue. Try saying it out loud - you'll find that you can't pronounce "Marilyn" without your mouth making a smile.
Not everyone gets a great Mama. I'm one of the lucky ones, and I know it.
Let me tell you a few things about my Mama. She's a polio survivor - and I mean "survivor" in every great sense of the word. She is NOT handicapped, she just can't walk. I have vague memories of her walking on braces and crutches, but mostly I remember her directing our world from a wheelchair. You might think that would be strange, or frightening, or make a child believe that their parent was somehow different. Not me. That's just how it has always been and I can assure you, that wheelchair has never stopped her from doing anything she is determined to do. She and Daddy have raised four beautiful, strong, stubborn and head-strong children. (Okay, so she raised Daddy too, but we don't tell him that!) She is an emergency services dispatcher for a living, which makes all the sense in the world to me. Believe me, if you've got an emergency on your hands and dial 911, it's my Mama you want on the other end of that phone. Her calm voice and compassion can reach out and make you believe that it is all going to be okay... help is on the way and she's going to make sure that they get to you in time.
My Mama and Daddy have been married for almost 50 years. They've never been married to anyone else and all of us kids started out with the same last name. I don't say that as an offense to anyone who doesn't have that same truth for their lives - it's simply a fact of MY life. My parents are also still in love with each other. I don't mean "they just don't know how to do anything else" either. I mean hand-holding, never-leave-each-other's-presence-without-kissing, sweet names for each other and the whole bit. Good, old-fashioned love that makes people smile when they see them together. They still have moments when their eyes meet and you KNOW that, in that moment, they are the only two people in the world to each other. I may not be able to explain to you what love is, but I can damn sure tell you what it looks like. Love looks like my parents.
Mama grew me under her heart for 40 weeks, then promptly forgave me for not breathing on my own when I was born and scaring she and my Daddy beyond reason. She resisted the urge to coddle and cosset me once I DID decide to breathe for myself (more than a week after my birth, by the way!) and let me go get dirty, scraped up and bruised being a normal kid. She allowed me, a part of her heart, to go walking around outside her body and learn all the lessons that children are supposed to learn. If she was scared, if she was uncertain, if she ever doubted - I never saw it. She'd smile and wave at me as I went out to do whatever it was that I was determined to do, with a look that said, "Oh yes you CAN!" If she never knew how much that meant to me, I hope she does now.
Mama gave me a love for words and for the magic of books. I don't remember for sure when I learned to read, but I know that once I could, I devoured books by the tons. I do know that I was in the 4th grade when she found me reading the "Little House on the Prairie" books for the gamillionth time and realized that I needed books like most people need to breathe. She started passing the books she read along to me when she was done, always carefully monitoring to make sure that I wasn't out of my depth. "Shogun" when I was in the 6th grade opened my eyes to history and culture - and Mama let my teacher at the time (Mrs. Ruth Hepler, may she rest in peace) know that it was okay to let me read "Tai-pei." "Magic Kingdom For Sale, SOLD!" let my imagination run wild. Romance, history, fantasy - all of it were to be found in the pages of books and Mama shared it all with me. Some books we still talk about (Mama, I swear one day we will find that old book that we still talk about - the one with Sembur and the Buddha's tears that we can't remember the name of? We WILL find it!) and we still share books and authors constantly. (Kim Harrison - WOOT!) I'm proud to say that I am the one who convinced Mama that the Harry Potter series was NOT to be missed. I rarely read anything wonderful before she does - she's got book-sniffing skills y'all! She is the one person I allowed to read the book I wrote, in it's entirety, before I started editing. She still thinks I'm a genius over that - though I'm not sure if it was the dragons or the rock people that did it...
I will turn 42 years old in August and my Mama's eyes still light up every time they see me. I'm a Mama myself now, but she still lets me be her kid when we are together. Sandwiches with diapers (well what good is a sandwich without tomatoes, after all, but you have to do SOMETHING to keep them from dripping down your shirt!), sweet iced tea (you put the lemon in your tea all you want Mama, I'd still rather eat mine), and my inability to fry chicken or bacon (because if anyone was going to get popped with hot oil while frying, it was going to be HER) are all wrapped up in my Mama for me. I am loved, cherished and appreciated every day of my life for nothing more than being her daughter.
Everything I know about being a woman, a mother, and an artist, I learned from my Mama. I am grateful. I count her first when I count my blessings (okay, I count she and Daddy in the same breath actually). If I ever grow up, I want to be just like her. If she comes to comment here, she's going to refute half of all this and tell you that I did it all on my own. Don't believe her :)
I love you Mama. There are no words that explain it well enough. There are no pictures that show it well enough. You are the most beautiful woman in the world and your soul makes you glow. I'll make the pasta salad, you make the tea...