Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Song and An Adored Mother

My mother is impossibly easy to love. She is genuine, she is casual and she has a heart of gold. She is one of those women who is constantly doing kind things for others and never seeking praise or recognition. She allows my young, single mama self to keep my social life and sanity by continually being worthy of Grandma of the Year accolades. If that wasn’t enough, she is gorgeous, with warm, caring eyes and a great smile. She still turns heads. I can only hope heredity will bless me with aging as well as she has. More importantly, I have much to learn from her mild, easygoing, gracious and loving manner.

Needless to say, she is one of my favorite people in the world. I love sipping red wine and chatting with her or making dinner together or taking my son to the museum with her. When she called last month and asked if I’d be interested in going to a concert with her in Ann Arbor, the answer was an easy “yes”. I love that town, the delicious eats available, a chance at quality time with my mom and I rarely turn down the opportunity to enjoy live music.

This was quite the show.

If you haven’t heard of The Swell Season, I would recommend you check them out, immediately. Glen was naturally inclusive of the crowd and wove his way into our hearts with his genuine manner and sharing of insight into their music. He was the kind of guy where you instantly turn to the person you’re attending the concert with and say, “I want to have a beer with him after the show. Or three. I TOTALLY feel like we would get along so well.” He told stories, he encouraged the crowd to sing, he was connected with the audience and obviously very passionate about their music. And I swear Marketa’s voice was perfection floating in the air.

One of the stories he told was about meeting a late 70’s/early 80’s aged woman in Chicago. He complimented her royal blue coat in the elevator and they struck up a conversation. In typical “old person” fashion, she was blunt and told him she had never heard of his music, never heard of his movie ("Once"), never heard of him. He was affable and accommodating and helped her get her bags to her taxi. She informed him that she was on her way back to her hometown, New York, and he invited her to their next performance there. She agreed. Her weathered, wrinkled hand on the door of the car, her silvery hair glistening in the sun, she turned to him.

“My son went into that fucking building, you know.”

His employment had ended on September 10th. He had gone back on the 11th to pick up a few last things.

“So if you’ve got something to say to someone. SAY IT.”

Such simple advice. But it’s human nature, I think, to often let things linger between our mind and heart and the impossibly long journey to gracefully rolling off our lips. I’m still not certain if it is fear that holds us back, the possibility that our feelings will not be returned and we’ll suffer some form of rejection or if it’s just difficult to appropriately form the phrases that explain the way our heart feels and our head thinks.

Her words struck me. I have stuff I’m thinking and not saying. I do. And I really like to think that I am one of those people that habitually puts myself out there. I’d like to think that if my life ended prematurely, someone would order some great food and delicious red wine and $10 bars of chocolate like I bought at Zingerman’s yesterday and all my friends and family would have a celebration and say, “Damn that girl loved life.”

But I’ve still got things I’m thinking and not saying. Sometimes I wish I could get to the “old person” mentality. They’ve lived so much life. They’ve got it all figured out. Nothing is as big of a deal as you think it is. No one scrutinizes your actions half as much as you think they do. The vast majority of the time, we all wish the other person would put themselves out there.

So I leave you with this song, and this message: Say it.

I’d rather know I tried and failed than to never know what I could’ve had.

PS Mom, you are the most amazing mother a girl could ever hope for. I love you.


  1. great reminder to us all... thanks penny!! love you!!!!!

  2. I told you never to tell anyone that I let you call me Penny! Haha :) Love you!

  3. My best friend didn't say something to someone she should have and not too long ago, he was killed in a motorcycle accident. It's because of her and her promptings that I do exactly what you're suggesting here and say what I think. The reminders are good though.

    Also, I think my mom's the greatest mom in the world. Somehow I think the two of us will never agree on that. :)