This morning as I drove home from dropping my daughter off at pre-school I was listening to a program on my local public station. The topic was “Without Them There’s No This: A Valentine’s Special.” I heard several callers talk about the most important people in their lives – spouses, children, parents. A man from Bellingham, a “ne’er do-well artist” who says he pushed his adolescence “as far as it could go” spoke of the neighbor he fell in love with at 41. He adopted her three children and then they had one of their own. You could tell he was wouldn’t go back to his former life for anything. There was a mother who daily cares for her non-verbal daughter who lives with a demanding condition. She spoke with love and gratitude in her voice as she shared how she has learned to be present and to live into every moment.
As I listened to these callers speak of the people they have chosen to love I thought first of Mom. I have two amazing children, but loving them is the easiest thing I’ve ever done. It’s a little more work with my husband sometimes, but I am still very much in love with him as we go into our seventh year of marriage.
Mom is a different story. Loving my mom has changed me. It’s hard not to love her cute shuffle and absent-minded head scratching. I enjoy hersmile when she looks at one of the kids and her relaxed pose as she sits with a cup of tea. She’s challenging though, when she is agitated and can’t let an idea go. Some days she will talk full-tilt, almost manically, from the moment I pick her up until I drop her off. And then there’s the days where she talks of killing people and blowing up banks, when she says my husband is trying to steal all my money and leave me. Then I just want to drop her off at the library and drive off.
All the same, like the callers today, I am grateful that my mom is in my life. I take the good days with the bad because that’s just life. I try to be grateful for the fact that we have each other at all – so many people don’t even have their parents anymore – and I am so fortunate that she is not as ill as some schizophrenics I have seen, or gone, either by alcoholism or death, like the parents of some of my friends.
So, Mom, you are my Valentine. I choose you because I can’t imagine my life without you. Who do you choose on this silly, but somehow meaningful holiday? Who has changed you?