At age thirteen… and so on and so forth…it would have pained me to admit it, but it’s so true. My mom is indeed now, and always has been … my best friend. Yes, today is her birthday, so it’s cliché for me to say something like that, but seriously, I mean look at us…
I’m her mini-me. I know it. And yes, the immature adolescent in me that wants to be “unique and original” still rolls her eyes when people stop me on, what is literally a daily basis, to say how much I look like my mother. But I have to admit, it’s a compliment. I mean, my mom’s a babe. Just look at her.
I know, right? And she hasn’t aged. Seriously. The woman is timeless. It’s some kind of freakish phenomenon. What I don’t think she’ll ever understand is how amazing she really is. Let’s just start with her talents. Most people know her for her impeccable work as a director. But before I get into that, I have to mention that my mom was the best darn actress that had ever hit the stage. I can say that ‘cuz she’s my mama, but I’m pretty sure that if any of you had the pleasure of witnessing her ON the stage, you’d agree. She can be so vulnerable, so graceful, so powerful, and sooooo funny! Truly, she could get a crowd rollin’, and director’s loved her! It’s no wonder why she wanted to be director herself. She made it easy for them. But, after playing around with her acting chops all her life, she took what was a really hard time for our family and turned it into an opportunity to live out a dream of hers. When I was about 7 years old, she became a single mom, went back to school (taking me with her for her night classes), and started working full time as a director. Why not? She has been directing plays since the early 80’s, and has now consistently worked as a drama teacher and director at St. Paul’s High School since 1987 and has never ceased to wow a crowd and pack a house. What she can get those kids to do is nothing less than professional. I know because I’ve been there at her feet, growing up in that theater when my mom was doing her thing with my brothers acting in the plays while I was running barefoot backstage, on stage and everywhere in between. And I have never left, really. I danced, acted and sang my little heart out on that stage, and wept in my last performance when I graduated. But, I came right back. It was a no brainer. I came back to design costumes and choreograph at her side, dragging my kids along for the ride to be little theater rats just the same. Boy, do they soak it up!
(check out this little gem of my Firecracker “helping Grammie direct” just like I did.
Talk about deja vu. Doesn’t get better than that)
What’s more important, is that she does it all for God. She has a knack for tying a faith-filled message into every show, leaves no scene or line unturned to make sure that all would be pleasing if the good Lord sat himself right down in the audience. Which, if you’ve had the blessing to be a part of her shows, you can feel that He’s there. He’s in her, and she makes sure that when you leave, He’s in YOU, too. With Mother Mary and her Immaculate Heart, my mom’s model, guide and closest confidant looking out over the crowd and praying for every cast, crew and audience member whether they like it or not, always at her side. Yup, Our Lady’s picture has remained framed and mounted above the light booth since my mom stepped her foot into that building and she ain’t takin’ it down. That’s right. My mom doesn’t take “No” for an answer. If ever you were a part of her youth group, worked in any kind of ministry or retreat with her, gone on one of the many pilgrimages that she has led, you know that if my mamacita thinks God wants you to do something, She’s gonna get you to do it. She cannot be refused. She is one very holy woman, and she has a direct line to God. I’m sure of it. (I know this because 1) she lives in the adoration chapel down at the end of her street and 2) I’m sure that’s where God would tip her off as to my whereabouts each time she busted and grounded me for something I was doing regularly when I wasn’t supposed to! Sheesh!)
And now, as a mother myself, I can call her over and over AND OVER again and thank her for all that she did to put up with me, and apologize profusely for being such a punk (especially when I know it’s all coming back to me. The mischief and “fire” is in the eyes of my children as well. Most are very well behaved when necessary, but don’t let them fool ya, especially one in particular. Hmmmm….I won’t mention who, but the primary culprit just might be pictured in a previous “deja vu – theater” pic). I also make it a habit to call to laugh, or cry with her when she simply laughs and shrugs her shoulders when I ask her for advice.
“I don’t know, Elise? It’s a strong gene. It was passed down to me by my grandmother, I passed it on to you, and now look at all the little people you’ve passed it on to. I’m here to help, but also to enjoy it! Have fun!” -Mom
So, her answer to the big question of what to do? Normally, it’s just, “You’ll figure it out.” She claims she never quite figured me out. I have no idea what she’s talking about…
(HaHaHa… check out these fun picks of what was supposed to be “a phase”)
My purple Mohawk wig circa 1984??, as a mad scientist, My mom, clearly the hottest gypsy fortune teller ever. (She kinda looks like me with my beanies now, huh?)
(aaand just a few weeks ago, with my REAL Mohawk, at my head shaving party. Mom, rooting me on)
Thanks, Mom, for always being at my side. For always giving me the advice that there’s no answer “in the books”. Thanks for believing that no person is or should be like anyone else (no “cookie cutter” kids in our family and we like it that way!) and appreciating each and every unique quality about people, whether or not we might make you crazy! Thank you for always, always, always being so darn proud of me and my brothers, our spouses, our kids, and our vocations, and seeing the best in us at every moment… to a fault (I seriously could have tried to fly because my mom made me think I could). Thank you for teaching us to “not cry over spilled milk” and to be strong and “do what we gotta do when we gotta do it”! Thank you for finding faith when our family had no faith, and gripping on to it for your life, through every storm like it was your job. Because it was, and you embraced it fearlessly, because you knew God had your back. And now, more than ever, I can see that that is rooted so deep in me and it is because of you and your rock hard faith, Mamamia!
When I received my diagnosis of breast cancer, just 2 months ago and counting, I asked you to be “my shadow”, the other “mommy” in the house. I wanted consistency for my kids, and I wanted you to be that person that did what I did when my kids came home every day when I knew I couldn’t. You’ve adjusted everything to be the carpool and homework lady, the extra hand in the house for dinnertime, bathtime and bedtime, and anything and everything in between. As a fellow mother, I can’t imagine what it means to have your daughter say she has cancer. So I know that you NEED to be here. But as your daughter, you’re pain in the butt, stubborn daughter who doesn’t hug too long or talk “mushy” outloud much because I’ve never been much for what I call “Hallmark moments“, I gotta let you know that I’m so glad to have you here every day and don’t know what we’d do without you.
You are some kind of bionic wonder woman and I hope everyone is really right.
I hope I really am just like my mom.