I celebrated what would have been my Mom’s 94th birthday having dinner with my sister. She brought a photo of Mom from a few years ago and ah, there was that beatific smile I remember. We put it on the table and she joined us for a lovely meal. After dinner, we walked to our cars as the fog swirled in and in my sister said,
“You know, in their own weird way, Mom and Dad did a pretty good job. Here we are, both of us about as happy as one can reasonably expect people to be, with lovely children and grandchildren coming up. By any psychological standards, Dad was neurotic and repressed, Mom a certified bi-polar, but at the end of the day, they knew us and loved us and were proud of us and let us be precisely who we needed to be. And in their own weird way, they loved each other too. Go figure.”
I got in the car, put on a Blossom Dearie album I associate with visiting my Dad in his last months and let the tears come forth. It’s been a while since I’ve felt this sweet grief and it felt just right for the occasion. I drove along Crissy Field to the Golden Gate Bridge to the Legion of Honor to the Cliff House and through Golden Gate Park to my house, me and Blossom and Mom and Dad and sis and images from the long arc of our lives together. The wet fog on the windshield, the wet drops on my cheek, we were all there together again and wasn’t that fine. I could hear my mother say, “Oh, my darling” and pinch my cheek and my father say, “Thanks for visiting, son” and hug me goodbye.
Yes, they’re always with us, we say about the dearly departed and it’s true. But to wholly feel them is not easy. The right music, permission for the tears to flow and putting the world aside to open the floodgates of memory, it all helps.
Happy birthday, Mom. Dad, glad you could join us.