Mother's Day. Seems out of touch that there is only one day a year dedicated to mothers; those incredible beings that are responsible for everything. The glue that bonds generations and creates the societies we live in. You'd think they would at least get a commemorative week or a federal nanny-state Monday-off holiday.
Tomorrow I get to spend the day with my wonderful, irascible and fearless mother. A brilliant and still beautiful woman with an amazing mind who put her own dreams on hold to support my dad and his crazy entrepreneurial dreams and boom or bust lifestyle. And, to raise me, an often difficult little bastard of a kid. She did it all while reading five books a week and smoking about 500 cigarettes a day.
We're going to go shop for a hopefully amazing rug for the living room in my downtown Milwaukee condo. Of all the interior designers I've hired (and mostly fired) over the years, she still has the best design sense and gives me the most innovative ideas.
Then we are going to go to an art museum and see an exhibit on French poster art, then out to dinner, where she will drink a couple vodka gimlets and a good half bottle of wine.
I'm amazed by her incredible constitution, two hip replacements, a grievous medical mistake during a routine test that left her near death and in an induced coma for a month (and for which she refused to sue as it was "too much bother"). Not to mention 55 years of 2-packs a day. All that, and at and at 74 she's still kicking ass. She'll give me the best conversation of my week.
My mom and dad were the most influential people in my life. What I believe is the largest part of whatever success I have been able to achieve is the love of reading that my mom instilled in me. The desire and ability to self-educate on any topic in the world by simply seeking out and reading books is the ability to achieve anything. Knowledge is a big part of success and books contain the best knowledge in the world.
From the time I was a baby, my mom would put me in her lap and read to me for hours on end. Importantly, as she read she would follow the words along with her finger. I would watch this, and the written word and the words she spoke connected in my head. I could read on my own by three and I remember in kindergarten when kids were learning to print their names with finger paint, I was reading books.
Many years ago I had this wonderful poem framed and gave it to my mom.
The Reading Mother
By Strickland Gillilan
I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea,
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth,
"Blackbirds" stowed in the hold beneath.
I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.
I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness blent with his final breath.
I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings--
Stories that stir with an upward touch,
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!
You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be--
I had a Mother who read to me.
Honor your mother tomorrow. Whoever she is and whatever she did, she made you the person you are.