It only took 35 entries but I finally got around to penning a few words in honor of my Mom. Without she, there would be no me – and hence no ‘Forty for Forty’. Yeah, you’ve only got her to blame for these 35 rambling posts recounting all those pivotal moments in my life that brought me to where I am today – looking at that dreaded 4-0 that today, stands a mere 3 & 1/2 weeks away. What seemed so far away is now in the bushes, just outside my window, getting ready to pounce. Well, technically I guess you can blame my Dad too… and sure, I should shoulder some of the responsibility too. We wouldn’t be in this mess if it weren’t for my gift of gab.
But come to think of it – she gave me that too.
When I first started this project last June in a bid to spend one year of my life recounting 40 things that made me the guy I am today, I swore I wasn’t going to fixate on specific individuals but rather memories and experiences. My fear was that with all the great people I’ve encountered in this long, winding journey – I was bound to leave someone by the side of the road. Never my intent. So, the mission was to recount pivotal life moments and if they happened to pick up a supporting cast along the way, so be it. The memories would loom largest.
But it’s Mother’s Day and if anyone has earned this break from form, it’s my Mom – a woman who worked so hard and tirelessly for so very long. For as long as I’ve known my mother she has moved mountains to raise her children, to put food on the table and shoes on our feet. And when she wasn’t working diligently to keep us safe and sound, she was toiling like crazy to help her extended friends and family in whatever way she could. From pinch hit catering assignments to cobbling up crafts to earn a little extra money at the local craft fair, she has always found herself busy doing something to make those ends meet.
And it wasn’t always hard work designed to earn an extra dime. Sometimes it was back-breaking manual labor undertaken for the purest intent of all – to make a house a home.
I remember when my Mom and Dad first moved us from the city streets of Everett to the more bucolic South Shore neighborhoods of Rockland – looking for a little larger real estate in which to raise a family. They found a decent sized house that must have been real attractive to its original inhabitants in 1892!!! By the time we arrived on the scene, there was need for an EXTREME HOME MAKEOVER. With no one offering to “MOVE THAT BUS”, my mother picked up a sledgehammer and went to town – tearing down crumbling walls, staining worn woodwork, scraping and repainting walls.
All done to turn a decent shelter into something more comfortable and welcoming. A nice nest in which to raise a family.
And to this day, that house and that neighborhood looms large in my memory. Sure, it’s where I grew up – and our original haunts are those places that stay with us to our dying day – but I think that it’s all the hard work that my Mom did to make that place shine that makes it beam so brightly whenever I take a quick trip back through those misty-eyed memories. She worked so hard to give us such a great childhood – the precious gift that all parents hope to pass on to their children. It’s what I’ve aimed to replicate for Colin and Aria.
And that’s what she has done over the years. She’s worked tirelessly her entire life to help others. I don’t mind saying that she raised three pretty great kids. My two younger sisters (Jenna and Noelle) and I have made it to these lofty heights afloat on her kindness and generosity. We couldn’t have done any of it without her.
It’s why when I look back upon memory, I feel such love for all she’s done especially when I spy some bittersweet memories that mist the eyes – little slices of my life that seemed so ordinary at the time, and yet a little heart-breaking now.
Living in that small town, at the turn of the Eighties – we had one car to the household. With my Dad working for Ma Bell in Waltham – we were stuck walking everywhere during the work week. On warm, summery days – my Mom would pack the three of us up and troop us to the local grocery store for shopping or the nearby playground to expend whatever energy we hadn’t lost in the mile plus jaunt it took to get there. Those were the days we didn’t mind hoofing it up and down the town.
But there were those other days, when the sky opened up, the gutters ran like rivers and inevitably one of us took sick – leading my Mom to wrap us up as three little Gorton’s Fishermen and lead us to the nearby doctor’s office. We’d walk in single file – the mother chased by her loyal little ducklings – and we’d stop and shimmy behind my Mom whenever a car would fly by a little too fast, sending a great tidal splash of rainwater cascading over us. And through it all, my mother never complained – even if my sisters and I had already struck up the chorus from the moment our feet hit the rain-slicked street. As a kid, I never thought anything of it. Looking back now, I marvel at her courage – to do whatever it took to make things all right with our world.
It’s why when I grew older – a teen – and began to rebel in small ways that I now swallow my sickly shame at those errant times I would selfishly strike back at her for no good reason at all.
Now, I was a pretty good kid – rarely getting in trouble – but I was a teenage boy who could be as petulant as the worst of them. Not my finest hours. If my Mom had one vice, it’s that she liked to play the lottery – pegging a couple extra bucks on the chance of a better tomorrow. Like many people who enjoy wishing on that star, she felt that the one night she didn’t play her numbers was the one night the stars would align and they’d all come out in her exact order. We’re not talking a big investment here – just a couple of bucks for a little excitement and some big dreams.
From time to time, in the days after my parents divorced and my sisters and I all lived under my Mom’s roof – when she had spent the last of her pocket money on dinner for us – she would sometimes turn and sheepishly ask if she could borrow a couple of bucks to get her numbers in. Looking back, it’s not the days where I gladly tossed a dollar or two her way that loom large. It’s the small handful of times that I barked something foul in return that haunt. What was a couple of bucks to me but another round of arcade games that Friday night or one less Orange Julius for this reformed mall rat? And yet – being a teen – no matter how good I was in general – somehow that age wrongfully granted me license to be a dick to those who mattered most.
I’d like to think that in the many years that have surrendered to us since, I’ve made up for those minor transgressions BUT it’s important to me that I never forget. For that’s one thing my mother has never done – no matter how pithy I became she never forgot to love me all the same.
There aren’t words enough to express how much my Mom has meant to me nor my sisters or our children or her friends and family. At some point, she has gone overboard to help us all out. It’s a life of servitude that deserves this accolade – not just this day but all those that have come before and stretch beyond.I can never repay her. But I can remember her… Always and Forever!!!
I Love You Mom!!!