That is how old my mother would be today, were she still in her body.
I miss her like a sunflower in the shade.
It may have been my father that taught me how to write, schooled me in the finer points of acting and passed me the baton of humor, but it was my mother who helped me to see the world through the lens of compassion. It was my mother who taught me how to love.
I thank my father for giving me the skills to make a good living, but I am forever indebted to my mother for gifting me with the skills to live.
So today, as I sit at the keyboard and try to think of a story to do my mother justice, one in particular comes to mind.
When I was about thirteen or so, I was on a cartoon show called “The Littles”
In addition to voicing the part of a rat like creature that lived in the wall of a young boys room and making double what I make now, I was also dividing my time between perfecting my dungeon master abilities, surfing the chat-rooms of Compuserve and discovering girls.
It was also during these magical years that I had the good fortune of spending a great deal of time with my dear mother.
After a long day in the recording studio, my stage mother took me to lunch.
Two cheeseburgers, two Cokes, two pieces of cherry pie a la mode.
One perfect afternoon.
After the world’s best lunch with the world’s best mother, we got up to leave.
As we approached the exit, my mother handed me some money and said, “go and leave this on the table”
While my mother ran outside to call a taxi and cop a smoke, I skipped back to the booth to leave the tip that she had just handed me.
My mother was always a generous tipper but I assumed that this was a mistake, surely.
I ran back to my mother, big bill in hand.
“Mom! You handed me a fifty, but the check was only eighteen dollars”
“Didn’t you mean it to be a five?”
“You meant to hand me fifty? But…”
“But nothing, go back to the table and leave the money”
I did as I was told.
On the ride home, my mother explained why she had left our server so much money.
“Her shoes were coming apart”
“So, a waitress needs two things. Good cheer and good shoes. Never forget to look up in life, but also, never forget to look down”
I was stunned, not by my mothers good tip, but by the fact that she had noticed such a minute detail. The thing is, it wasn’t a minute detail to the waitress. It was a big deal. That waitress did need new shoes, and my mother had just given her the means to get them.
She had also given her something else.
And that is something that no amount of fifties can buy.
My mother was kinder than she was nervous, and for those that knew her, that is one hell of a lot kindness.
I carry my mothers kindness today, like a magical cloak protecting me from life’s sharp edges.
And I do my daily best to pass it on to all those who look like they are falling apart, be it shoe or soul.
Happy Birthday, mom.
Thanks for leaving me with eyes that look in all directions.
And a tip that will last a lifetime.