Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Toast to the Ever-Changing Sameness

It was on Mother's Day fifteen years ago that the only piece I have ever written in my life that was actually picked up and published - this vanity press effort notwithstanding - appeared in print. It was something that I had written after having been in court one Friday morning waiting my turn to make an appearance before Judge Miller in Bergen County and having heard Judge Miller pronounce sentence upon a repeat offender - a guy whose crimes were more against himself than against the rest of us. What I took with me from Judge Miller's courtroom that day had nothing at all to do with the defendant and almost as little to do with the sentence. It had everything to do with the way in which His Honor talked about the role one's mother plays.

The little piece I wrote made it in fact onto the front page of the "Perspective" section of the Star-Ledger on the Mother's Day edition of the paper. If memory serves, the Ledger ceased producing the "Perspective" section of its Sunday edition shortly thereafter. While I have long held out hope that my contribution to it was not a proximate cause of its demise, I know not whether that is true. Worse yet, I have my suspicions.

A copy of the piece I wrote is affixed to a wall in my office. I have held onto it not because it represents my one moment kinda, sorta in the public eye - on the public's head somewhere at least. Well, that is not the only reason - or the principal one - anyway. I have held onto it because inasmuch as a man has got to know his limitations, I find it instructive to have a cheat sheet to which I can easily refer to remind me of what mine are. Sitting in my office on Friday morning, thinking about Suz's Garden State weekend adventure, my eye was drawn to it. Fifteen years further on up the road, I was reminded that even in a sea of change there are atolls that serve as constants. Solid masses of land upon which a voyager can seek shelter.

Without further ado and in recognition of the dry ground that Mom always strived to ensure remained beneath my feet:

Our mothers, noted Judge Miller, are the bedrock and cornerstone of our society. They sacrifice and suffer so that they can provide us, their children, with opportunities for prosperity that they themselves might never have had....

....Judge Miller was right. Mothers are the bedrock and cornerstone of our society. I know that every opportunity I have ever had to achieve anything has been provided to me by my mother. She is - without exception - the strongest person I have ever met. My father died when I was fourteen leaving my mother three kids' college educations to pay for. Nevertheless, my mother persevered. Freed from my father's strong and sometimes domineering personality, my mother proved herself to be a woman of amazing strength and determination. Nothing, including cancer, has stopped her. She has always done all that she can to present her children with opportunities for achievement without making excuses for failure.

Shame on me. I had let all of that stuff slip into the recesses of my mind. Perhaps in a world of "instant everything" I had let a lifetime's worth of everything get lost. Too often life today revolves around a "What have you done for me lately?" mentality. Lucky for me and - I suspect - scores of others - that mothers do not subscribe to that philosophy. Thank you Mom for being my bedrock and cornerstone. And thank you Judge Miller for reminding me of something that I have always known but had inexcusably forgotten

As my wife can attest to - unfortunately I am sorry to say - I am not a quick study. It is more than a little humbling to admit that all these years later I am still prone to the same mistakes. Lucky for me, Mom is still kicking ass and taking names. The window of atonement remains open.

For Mom. For Margaret. For my sisters and my sisters-in-law. For all the mothers everywhere....

....Happy Mother's Day. And thank you.


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