Writing a mother's day column is harder than it seems given how delicate a balance one must strike between offering something substantial, memorable and sincere while avoiding the trite trappings that line the insides of thousands of greeting cards given to millions of moms on the first Sunday in May each year.
Yet, I feel a sense of duty and of obligation to my own mother and to mothers everywhere to at least attempt this high-wire act.
This pressure to write something clever and somewhat nuanced but not overly cute or trying-too-hard yet heartfelt naturally comes from a well-intended place, of wanting to do something for someone who does so much for so many and expects so little in return.
Such selfless and unconditional kindness and love is worthy of formal recognition more than once a year but I wasn't in the room when the greeting card bigwigs took the vote so here we are.
Sadly, I don't know your mothers so attempting to sum them up would be a largely futile exercise. I suppose I could make wild guesses at the kind of people they are, how much they like golf or Donny Osmond or watch bad show on CBS but that, too, seems an inappropriate way to recognize someone who has, no doubt, had such a profound effect on your life.
Instead, I've no choice but to write about my own mother, a goofy, fun, thoughtful and loving person who I'm sure you would all like very much if you met her.
Except that you can't because she, being a woman of small stature, was swooped up in the talons of a giant condor while on a family vacation in California when I was 9, never to be seen or heard from again.
I kid. My mother has excellent instincts when birds of prey are near.
But when I think of my mom, what comes to mind isn't how she always knows what to say or do to make me feel better (which she does) or her somewhat annoying penchant for filling the silence on road trips by reading signs aloud or asking more questions than a hyperactive toddler.
I think of a ceiling fan.
My mom was in town several months ago and heard me complain, as I often have, about the lack of a ceiling fan in the living room of an apartment that I've occupied for about five years.
It is worth mentioning that my living room faces west and, as the sun sets, it sun pours in through three large windows, turning this otherwise pleasant space into a sweaty hellpit with no moving air. It's basically a sauna with a nice television, a comfy couch and an XBox.
There, on the ceiling, was a cap where a ceiling fan could be installed but I was nowhere near handy enough for such a job and being no fan of electrocution, whining about this heat, it seemed, was my best and only line of defense against this steamy inconvenience.
My mom was less deterred.
So, imagine my surprise when I came home from work one night to find a rather decorative ceiling fan screwed into the ceiling, its blades spinning triumphantly, filling my living room and adjoining kitchen with a breeze best described as heaven-sent.
It seemed, in my absence, she inquired to the property management group that owns the apartment complex about the possibility of having the fan installed and less than 48 hours later, the fan was paid for and hanging from my ceiling.
Sure, it was a small gesture but one by which I was honestly moved. Nearly to tears.
It was, in my mind, indicative of my mother's thoughtfulness and her willingness to go out of her way to make the lives of my brother, my sister and I even incrementally more comfortable.
I'm grateful and feel profoundly lucky to have someone like that in my life and everytime I switch on that fan, I'm reminded of that fact and of my mom.
This week, in honor of Mother's Day, a playlist of songs for and about moms.
Come to think of it, I should watch my mom around hawks, falcons and even large crows. She is rather small.
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