Happy Birthday

To my mother.

She turned 82 today. I know I've written defensively about her but much of that is due to my own pain and bullshit.

One thing about my mother...she had an open door and an open heart to many young people in her life. After she married my father, who was a composer and professor, she was nearly always the one who cooked and fed his starving students, put up a bed for them, listened to their ideas and stories as my father mentored them, cleaned out their ashtrays and put up with their patio pot-smoking. The students, not my father. He was a tabacco only kind of fellow.

My father took so many people under his wing that he perhaps never got enough air under his own to take flight. He was a launch pad for hundreds, if not thousands of musicians, actors and writers, not to mention media professionals. His purpose was art and love and growth, not fame or funding. He loved his students. I still get calls and emails from them, can you believe it? How much of a difference he made in their lives, even 40 years ago. It's weird to get emails from people who possibly saw you as an infant telling you about your dad and mom. Weird but good.

My mother though never wanted to take flight to begin with, but to support. She really was happiest in those days in NYC and Dallas when dad was teaching and composing, conducting and touring. She really and truly enjoyed entertaining and providing a space for joy. By most accounts, was warm and nurturing and always there to provide a pragmatic and grounded ear for those who were in between houses, lovelorn, or unsure of their purpose. And in the 70's especially, there were lots of transient, lovelorn, confused graduate students to nurture. I have some really great memories of our house filled with people who played with me, in between beers or conversations, of parties where everyone listened to my dad's stories or ate my mom's food.

She and I never had a truly easy relationship, something I find bittersweet considering how much like a mother she was to so many others. I can't begrudge her her feelings about actual motherhood, cause I know how difficult it is. I can't begrudge her much, come to think of it. Really, all I want is peace for her.

She was a wonderful grandmother to these boys. She took much care of them right after they were born, and the littlest one was and still is especially close to her. Here they are loving her. I'm sorry they couldn't have known my mother and my father. I'm actually sorry I didn't get that much of a chance either. I got the short end of the stick on that one, but I suppose there is a lesson in that. Love hard, love as long as you can, and keep an open door.


  1. Happy birthday to the woman who produced one of the coolest chicks I'm blessed to know.


Post a Comment