This post has been a draft for months, waiting to be polished and posted. I’ve been preoccupied for at least that long, trying to think of what I would tell you about my mother.
For a large chunk of that time, it only contained two words: lip gloss.
But lip gloss isn’t all there is to say. I’m going to tell you the rest, too. About the lip gloss, yes, but about the rest, most definitely. Anyway, I’ll start with the lip gloss.
When I was growing up, my mommy always had little colored pots of Rachel Perry lip gloss in her purse. Mostly, I remember it being cantaloupe. I think she had mint too, and grape. They were flavored and very tasty. When she let me use some to make my lips soft, I would inevitably sneak some onto my tongue, too. I think she did tell me that lip gloss was not for eating (I was that kind of sneaky kid). Cantaloupe lip gloss wedged itself in my childhood consciousness and stayed there long, even until my mother found those same pots at the local health food store and gave them to my sister and I for Christmas. These days, I don’t eat it. But for using as lip gloss, it is awesome. And it reminds me of my mom. Anyway, I did try it, just once. It still tastes the way I remember it. I’m just… not into eating lip gloss anymore. It makes me think of mom’s purse, and being little.
My mommy has always been warm and smooth. Often crazy (I inherited that from her, no doubt) but also sweet and good and loving. My mom paid for my rehearsals and bought me concert gowns when we were subsisting on cold cereal and canned soup. She put my photos in the paper, wrote the articles and sent them, hung my performance fliers in her office window and gave her clients my business cards. She has always been so proud of what I was doing, always wanted badly for me to do even more.
She videotapes my shows, brings audio recorders to concerts (whether or not I approve, and that’s the way it is). We always seem to have something to listen to or watch later, something for her to show people, something to show off a little. Though I received quite a bit of financial and emotional support for the trip to Wales, from many corners, she was absolutely instrumental in pushing it through, making it work, and inexplicably managed to cart herself there too, with father and grandmother in tow—to Wales. She helped me pay for all the bizarre comforts that soothed and strengthened me, helped me do incredibly well (and I am pleased to say that I didn’t disappoint her!). She’s still pushing, with articles in the paper and photos pinned to her office wall, and without her, who knows what I’d have gotten done by now?
From my mother I am strong and stubborn, and not only a little brilliant. She made me an artist and a musician in many ways, and encouraged me to do the things I did so well when my friends’ parents were grousing and insisting they look to “real” careers. My mother always knew what I was capable of. She never doubted it for a moment.
Many difficult years and it can be hard to remember these things. But they’re all true.
When I wanted to read, she bought me books. Growing up, I had so many books! Even now, buying books is a habit I can’t throw off, and wouldn’t want to. She made reading and learning a dear drug (a dear drug, indeed! How much did I spend on new reading material this month?) and always kept me moving forward, even when we barely had the means. And if any of you have managed not to notice (what, are you living under a rock?) I’m running or helping to run more than one business, building my own projects, engaged in creating myself, making the whole world into what I want it to be. This is due in no small part to my mother. I can’t say it elegantly. It’s too simple. I love my mom a lot.
Someday, I will make a lot of money. I will buy my mom pretty things—I want to buy her clothes and carpets and furniture. I want her to have time to keep a garden. For now, the only thing I can do is love her a lot, and let her push me forward. The further I go, the better I am. She knows what she’s doing. It’s making me better and better—driving me faster and building me up stronger.
That’s what my mom did. Anyway, today is her birthday. I love you, Mom!