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Hyperion February 25, 2001

#26 XXXXX (or L, if you want to be picky)

Fifty years ago today, my mother was born. I was not able to get home to be with her today, so I thought of writing this for her instead. When the idea first came to me, I struggled with how to describe her effectively. How do I encapsulate a woman I have known my entire life, with just a few words? I could tell you how she always corrected my grammar, and how I hated it, but now am so grateful that I can converse intelligently, and now do the same thing myself. I could tell you how she is always ready to engage me in debate, including the last time I went home, when we were arguing about something, and my dad laughed and commented that no matter how much time passes between visits, we always start up right where we left off. I could tell you how she thinks she is French, or writes me a dozen emails at a time, or even how good her Chicken Curry is. There are so many things to tell you about my mother, I could never get it all in. I have selected three areas, though, to try to show you a little about her. So, here goes:

My mother is enormously intelligent and talented. Every year she throws this fabulous Christmas Party for the women in her church. Ok, maybe it is a bit sexist, not inviting men, but everyone who is lucky enough to get to go can’t stop talking about it for weeks. She is very creative. She is forever coming up with new ideas on how to do things, how to try a new angle. Sometimes the ideas are so off the wall I suspect drug use, but more often than I would like to admit, those ideas prove to be lifesavers. Perhaps her greatest achievement, though (other than her first child), is her piano playing. She started playing when she was two years old. When I was two, I wanted nothing more than to play with an orange, but she played the piano, and phenomenally. Blessed with an incredibly rare gift, it was not long before she was teaching the craft. It was playing, however, where she truly excelled. She could have been a concert pianist of world-renown, but she gave that up to be a missionary, and a mother. Speaking as one of her children, I for one am glad she did.

My mother was the first woman in my life, and she taught me quite a bit about what to expect from the species. For years, my dad would get older, while my mom would stay 29. When I was younger, I thought this was some sort of Einsteinian relativity phenomenon, but later I realized that mom was teaching me a valuable lesson. That lesson was that women care about their age, their looks, and what others think of them far more than men would dream of. Neither way is better or worse, but I am glad I learned that before I ventured out into the world. She also told me that women were biologically designed not to pass gas, which I believed until I got sisters, who blew that theory rather quickly. This episode taught me another valuable lesson. That was that just because a woman thinks a certain thing, doesn’t make it so. She may believe it, but it doesn’t make it any truer. Nevertheless, you still have to deal with her truth, whatever that may be. When I was seven I took some raspberries that were saved for my Grandmother. I think I will never hear the end of it. Any time anything comes up missing, the raspberries come up. I am 25 years old, and I cannot escape the raspberries. Rather than be bitter, however, I choose to see this as another valuable lesson. That lesson is that women tend to view things on a continuum. Whereas any argument with a man tends to be about whatever the argument is about, with women, often, the argument is about six months ago, and something that happened there. With all due respect to Seattle Pacific alums, I have learned that men and women are just wired differently, and I am glad I learned that at home.

Lest you think that I am all about backhanded compliments, my mother is constantly doing things for others. When I was in grade school, I had to write this story about Oregon Native Americans, and of course, I waited until the night before it was due, and then busted my writing hand. My mother took dictation for the entire story, and believe me, it went for pages (I know, you are all shocked). She then helped me carve a totem pole out of a block of Ivory soap, so I could enter it in the contest we were having. That’s my mother. Whenever we would have guests for dinner, my mother would barely get to eat; hopping around serving everyone else. I used to think that was stupid, but I learned the value of treating guests well, and now I do the same thing, well, sort of. I am glad I do, too. She is always thinking of others. When I last visited a few weeks ago, I had to catch a morning flight out. My father and I waited in the car for her impatiently, only to see her come out lugging this huge bag she had filled with food from her cupboard; worried her boy would starve. I could tell you hundreds of stories like that, but one sticks out, as it embodies the essence of her giving nature.

I worked at a movie theater, and from time to time, the studios would send us tee shirts to correspond with the opening of new movies. Well, the third Batman movie came out, and the shirts all had cutting edge images, of a new, cooler Batman. As usual, they studio only sent shirts for the normal sized people, and I was left out. I felt pretty bad about it. You would think we bigger folks would get used to being left out because of our size, but we do not. Well anyway, unbeknownst to me, my mother went out and found a black tee shirt that would fit me, and then scoured the city for iron-on decals. She found these retro decals from the Fifties; the ones where Batman is all clean angles and the words POW and BIFF come out of his hands when he hits the bad guys. She then took puff paint and secured the decals to the shirt, for me to wear the opening night of the movie. Well, let me tell you: having the most distinctive shirt in the movie theater, everyone wanted to see and touch the decals; they thought it was so cool. I haven’t had that many women lay hands on me since I angered a pack of nuns. A night that could have been really humiliating turned out sweet beyond belief, all because of my mother.

Well, I have told you a few things about my mother. I sit here with a list of dozens of items I wanted to get in, but even if I wrote all of them and more, I could not get across what a wonderful woman my mother is. I guess you would have to know her to know what I am talking about. And if you do, you sure are lucky. Happy birthday, Mom.

February 24, 2001


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