Welcome Back, Mom

I’ve been at this a short time. Since October of 2019, to be more precise. Millions of other bloggers dutifully write words of greater depth on this day and have done similar, marvelous posts on days going back further than that. Year over year, they tell their individual stories. I walk along side some of them as they silently speak of their beautiful journeys. They are we-blog folks. Simple people who have something special to say on a particular day.

At the time of this post, there are an estimated 500 million blogs. Logging on the web, back in 1994, was a portal for Justin Hall and Peter Merholz who became quasi-household names to all the bloggers yet to come. Pioneers are they. The former considered the “founding father” of personal blogging and the latter who coined the term, “blog”. Technological credits aside – available for anyone willing to do the additional research – I’m simply amazed – after fifteen months of experimental digitry on my Dell keyboard and Samsung phone, primitive observational photographic skills, and basic grasp of grammar rules – I have followers of one kind or another. Either through email or a simple follow button, there are those of you out there in the blogosphere who enjoy reading my words.

We don’t say “thank-you” enough these days. Out of half-a BILLION blogs, you’ve chosen this one to read. Thank-you.

…and thank you, 2021. What for? Returning a little bit of normal to me I thought I lost months ago during a tempestuous, emotional 2020.

We didn’t lose mom in 2020. She died in 2012. Part of what she left behind was her music. Not just all the piano music I get a chance to play, but also her iPod Shuffle and various other devices with music downloaded she listened to while undergoing chemo treatments. I’m not sure my siblings, or my dad, miss mom the same way I do. We’re all different. We mourn her loss differently – even eight years, four days later. Pianistic connections are hard to let go between a son and mother. Duets played side by side, deeply felt, are not easily let go – and shouldn’t be. Remembering hearts entwined, while playing thousands of pinochle hands on cold winter evenings, trump this sad feeling of not having her around to help me deal with her absence across the table from me.

Facing another year without someone like her is hard. If you’re sitting with me, you know the fondness without the company of that person. A mom, dad, son, daughter, friend …they’re all so uniquely important to us. A memory just isn’t enough most times. We can pretend a sign from above is enough – and it is for the moment. But when that person is no longer here in person to give us a hug, or tell us they love us no matter what, we feel less-full, less-complete. Holidays, especially, are tough. Mom’s cookies. Dad’s Christmas traditions … all so important to us, right?

Here is 2021. Geesh, are we glad it’s here, or what? The election season was anfractuous. Yes, anfractuous, and as of this day, still hasn’t settled into a direct line toward a calm inauguration. The pandemic, of course, virtually split everything into parts previously unknown for a century. Racial tensions pulled apart our country. What a mess we were … and continue to be. How about we simply acknowledge a lot happened we weren’t too happy about and, privately, mourn our losses? If you suffered a tragedy, please accept my sincere condolences. 2020 wasn’t kind. “Happy New Year!”, I guess.

Mom didn’t need to be alive for any of this. It’s fortunate she isn’t around. There are too many people to hug and not enough time in the day for her. Distancing away from her family would be too much – as it is for so many other families – and not being able to be her wouldn’t be any kind of life.

Cancer sucks. The day she died, however, was one of my best days. I’ve said this since that sad March day in 2012. My biggest crutch in life was kicked out from under me. I had to grow up and become an adult on that very day. Losing her earbuds last year still hurt, however. Listening to music through her ears since she died was one of my connections. When they went missing, I lost a part of my mom. Last year took so much from so many, yet misplacing a simple pair of earbuds, to me, was living the 14th floor of UPMC Altoona’s palliative care wing all over again.

The connection was lost. I lost a small part of mom. Efforts to find failed. Drawers, closets, cars, clothes, etc … nowhere to be found. With regret and sadness, I gave up. Times of late night music sessions only for my ears silenced. I didn’t want to buy a replacement. There was no other. I know this sounds goofy, perhaps a bit featherbrained, but tickle my fancy and go with the emotional-logic here: there IS no emotional-logic. Replacing the earbuds meant I was, in a mystifying way, replacing my dear mom.

I don’t believe in signs from above. If there’s a divine being up there, I think there’s a better way to send us signals than birds and cloud shapes. I don’t know what I don’t know, so I’m always open to learning, however. Whatever urged these wonderful little earbud-dies of mom’s to show back up in my life yesterday … thank-you. Yes, they were jammed under the sofa … no surprise there because I probably hobbled them under there a while back flirting around doing something else.

As I type, for the first time in months, music flows again through my ears. Mom lives again. I’m listening to the top hits of 2020. Everything’s back to normal. Kinda. Still have a way to go because hanging close by are six masks and a schedule adjusted for semi-lockdowns and virtual teaching.

I’m thankful and grateful I can write along with my 500 million friends … and have something special to say on this particular day. Unique, to me, of course because of all the problems in the world lately, I may have been the only one who lost his earbuds within the past 6 months. Small in comparison to others’ tremendous losses this past year, my experience was, nevertheless, real to me … and heartfelt.

As I close, “Memories” by Maroon 5 finishes up on the playlist. Again, no pointing upward or sideways to a divine interventionist. I’m simply going to stop typing, sit back, and listen to the words. Thankful, for one last time, mom is talking to me again. Welcome, 2021.

Froliday

Love or hate. Toss portmanteaus aside into mental bins where other words you don’t use reside; or, embrace them everywhere you see such words as brunch and spork. Two separate becoming one new. A concept once reserved for marital bliss also now used for stabbing peas and scooping mashed potatoes. Marvelous.

My portmanteau for this season is froliday. The urban dictionary defines it as a merging of friendship and holiday. That is, a recurring, significant date between friends. I don’t agree. Especially now, the day after January 1st – a Friday – when this particular 24 hour span seems like a Sunday, but is a Saturday. The same weirdo Serling event happened last week as the Christmas holiday fell on Friday, the 25th. These Friday holidays mess everything up. Chief among them, my weak-end mind.

These every-so-often Frolidays are not right. Frankly, of all the laws Washington should consider, I’d be in favor of them passing a “No Holidays on Friday” bill. I’m not twisting a Scrooge-screw here or waving a white flag, … just move the days July forth or back to another day so I can get my Saturdays straight in my head. Certainly you can get behind me here?

C’mon now. As sure as I type, didn’t you once think, “What day is it?” today? Maybe said it out loud into the mirror as you shaved Christmas and New Year’s stubble off your face, or ran ruby red lipstick around once cookie ravaged lips? Holidays, in general, mess us up. Gets us all off our routines, anyway. Hygiene, diets, school, work, … all of it off the rails – and THEN we have to smoosh in remembering a day-after Saturday?

Too much, I say. Weekday holiday, then another weekday after? Yep. Good to go. This three-syllable, gobsmack day after, twice happening letdown that happens roughly twelve percent of the time has to be removed … permanently. How and by what means other than an act of Congress, I’m not sure.

Very few things I’m sure of lately, that’s for sure. How about you? Two days into a new year and to quote one of my favorite comedians “You’re doin’ good!”. Tom Papa nails it. We’re hanging in there with what we’re dragging into this new year. Nothing really changed except the date. If we have a few extra pounds flipping us out, they’re still here. Goofy co-workers sit close by, possibly virtual, and can be just as annoying as they were only days ago. Looking back to the 2020 work-a-day world a few breaths back, I see nothing different today, really.

Not to say we can’t have hope, however. We are doing good if we have hope in what this year will bring. Not false hope. Going back to the moon or becoming a movie star does not a bucket list make. Hope that a hug from someone you love will finally arrive at your doorstep. Hope for a better job you’ve been working hard to get. Hope for small, measurable upticks in your healthy lifestyle so well deserved from early morning jogs and disciplined eating. These are doable, wonderful hope-for soul stuffers.

It’s all what we work and hope for that makes all the difference. If we remember we’re doin’ good – new year or not – we’ll be just fine.

I hope to never again have a Froliday (as I believe it to be) in my life, yet I know this will never be a reality. I must begin to agree with the times and seek out a friend with whom I can have a significant, urban, holiday date. Whoever this happens to be, I hope said individual understands if our anniversary falls on a Friday, I will be understandably absent from the celebration. Saturday following is iffy as well due to my believing it is a Sunday. It’s all messed up, you see.

So glad I have a portmanteau to keep it all straight. Or, do I?