Sunday, May 12, 2013

Ave, Mater

One of the things that I've realized as I've grown old(er) is that I really, REALLY hit The Parent Jackpot. Not in the sense that my parents were wealthy, particularly well-connected or the cool, awesome and amazing people that the other kids in the neighborhood wished their parents were, but because they are both intelligent, thoughtful and deeply, deeply Wise. Normally, when I consider the wisdom they imparted through the lessons that they taught me, my thoughts go to my father, who had a neverending selection of what appeared to be glib, pithy sayings that turned out then be more nuanced than I realized.

But this leaves out my mother, who most certain did plenty of teaching of her own, especially considering that she was an educator. And the single most important thing that I learned from my mother can be summed up as follows:

Love is a choice. And no matter what the circumstances of your life are, who you love is always your choice, and perhaps the single most personally important choices that you will make.
Unlike my father, my mother was not usually one to lay such sentiments out in as many (sometimes cryptic) words, although there were exceptions. Instead, this was something that I learned from hours upon hours of conversations with her over the years. Looking back over my life had always left me vaguely displeased with myself, and for a time, I threw myself into the project of being a Good Son, caught up in making amends for some transgression against my parents that they never implied, and I could never articulate, but that seemed painfully real to me nevertheless. Exactly when my mother figured out that I was attempting to buy, not their love or affections, but the feeling of being worthy to be the eldest child of two marvelous people, I don't know. Unlike my father, she didn't seek to directly talk me down I became stressed. Instead, she was simply always There, a constant presence that was calmly assured of everything that I was not.

And in that, I am remarkably fortunate.

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