Hey, Mom. What’s it like up there? I’m incredibly glad you’re pain- and-stress-free now. There are hundreds of things I’d love to say to you, but I want to focus on saying thanks.
Thanks for carrying nearly 16 pounds of children for nine months and for constantly reminding Anne and I we would forever be “wombmates.” That’ll always get a quick laugh out of us.
Thanks for raising us with unwavering support and dedication and not one ounce of favoritism.
Thanks for spoiling me as a little kid during all my childish obsessions — dinosaurs, Goosebump books, baseball cards, Magic cards, yoyos, Star Wars action figures, football cards and the countless other fads I went through that didn’t last more than two weeks.
Thanks for telling me, at a young age, that your job as my mom wasn’t necessarily to make me happy but to keep me safe and healthy. For as unaware of many things as I was then, that saying always resonated with me.
Thanks for saying “We can talk, I’m just resting my eyes” when I’d leap onto your bed just before you were ready to take a nap.
Thanks for letting Anne and I play under your desk while you painted in your studio. How you concentrated with battling, bickering, rambunctious toddlers at your feet… I’ll never know.
Thanks for demonstrating to me how fun “creating” can be. Though you certainly did not pass down your amazing artistic ability, I know my love for writing came from you.
Thanks for taking me to almost all of my baseball practices three times a week in Mini League.
Thanks for driving me way out to Alex’s house about 1,000 times, making me 1,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and for 1,000 back scratches.
Thanks for attending basically all of my sporting events growing up, and actually caring about my performance and the outcome of the game without ever going overboard on the referees. By high school, I think I started to take for granted how extremely involved in our athletics you and Dad were, but afterward, I realized how much it meant to me and how lucky I was to always have you on the sidelines or in the stands.
Thanks for cooking dinner just about every night during the school week and having us eat together at the kitchen table. No questions asked. Although I was the classic grouchy kid when vegetables were left on my plate, thanks for essentially forcing me to eat them. That whole dinner scene — I needed that.
Thanks for advising me through the pressures of middle school and high school — the pimples, the awkwardness — by always asking me how my day was and if I needed to talk about anything. When I was in 6th grade you constantly mentioned to “learn how to laugh at yourself,” and for as crazy as that sounded initially, it helped tremendously.
Your approach was never judgmental or threatening or sarcastic… only sincere and caring and kind.
With Dad being a school psychologist, funny that you were the one I’d always go to first.
By the way, thanks for agreeing to stay in the seats after dad begged “one more series” even after Frank Reich threw a pick six to give the Oilers a 35–3 at the start of the second half of what ultimately became the Greatest Comeback in NFL history. I know that’s one of the best days in his life.
Thanks for not just “putting up” but joining in with Dad’s sports obsession that he genetically passed down to me.
Thanks for usually calmly dealing with his chronic tardiness — and mine too — and for all the quirks of everyone in our family.
Thanks for religiously being in my corner, but not in an unreasonably biased way. You taught me I wasn’t always right, that it wasn’t always someone else’s fault, and there’d be times I’d screw up and have to own up to it. You taught me that not only was it absolutely fine to say “I’m sorry, I was wrong” but how healthy it was to admit mistakes.
Thanks for always hammering home that people shouldn’t be judged by things they can’t control, and, at the very least, to give everyone a chance.
Thanks for always reminding me how important it is to live life passionately.
Thanks for being strict without making Anne and I feel like we were living in a boarding school. I recently mentioned to you how I can reflect on the years at home as the ideal balance of freedom from the parents and rules from the parents. I really meant that.
Thanks for occasionally giving me the easy way out of things — looking back, I think you were keenly aware of what I definitely needed to do to grow as a person, and the stuff that didn’t matter.
Thanks for not letting me to go the YMCA to play basketball before I got my homework done that one night.
Thanks for the assortment of family vacations and buying what seemed like a never-ending supply of Flavor Ices in the summers.
Thanks for being like a second mom to all our friends, for always letting them spend the night if they needed to and letting us know when we were being too loud.
Thanks for visiting me at college every year, making food when you’d come, immersing yourself in and being genuinely excited about everything I was doing — my sports radio show, projects I was working on, writing for the newspaper… all that.
Oh, and thanks for letting me come home that first month when I was insanely homesick. As usual — you were right. Going to college nine-hours away got easier each year.
Thanks for never “fighting” with Dad. From friends, I’ve learned — but will never be able to fully understand — the impact that can have on kids. Thanks for showing me that it is possible for two people to love each other, always respect each other and work through disagreements without name-calling or intense screaming matches. From you, I learned that cooler heads prevail.
Thanks for just being so significantly involved in my life but rarely over-stepping your bounds. Heck, you and Dad could have gone on waaayyy more dates, but you two always put Anne and I first.
Thanks for teaching me to, at times, stand up for myself, and for pushing me to do so more as a I got older yet never advocating me to be mean or nasty to anyone.
Thanks for teaching me, by example, that living selflessly and empathetically — which oftentimes strongly opposes our instincts — makes for a better, more fulfilling and happy life.
Thanks for your guidance through the start of my writing career, and for always being my editor. You gave me so many “better words” to use before you liked what I was ready to publish. Sometimes, you didn’t like what I wrote. That helped too. Seriously though, mom… how was your vocabulary so big? And how in the world did you always know how to word a sentence or paragraph better? I’ll always feel your presence when I’m writing.
(I realize this piece would have been considerably better if you were here to read it over.)
Thanks for never being too tired or simply not caring to read something I wrote. I fed on your excitement and will always remember that.
Thanks for continually encouraging me to email editors — “you’ve got nothing to lose” — and for not freaking out on me when I lost my job last March. You were like my looking-for-work secretary.
Thanks for letting me live at home — guilt free — for a few years after college. I wanted to and got a lousy-paying job but it would have been very difficult for to me to afford living by myself.
Thanks for the deep talks you had with me regarding Deena, my wife come August 29, and how much attention and love you gave her… and for all the help you provided during the move into our house last year.
Thanks for being the consummate mom — strong-willed, protective, authoritative, always interested, always ready to listen and give advice, and for instilling in me vital values and morals that hopefully will help me become as thoughtful, hard-working, inquisitive, humorous as I can be. And you surely prepared me for parenthood in a profoundly positive way. I’m almost entirely a product of my upbringing, and I’m forever grateful of how you and Dad raised me.
I did ask you to visit me once in a while, and you already have, but I’ll still miss you every day until I see you again.