For the last two weeks, I've had the flu, and - when I'm sick, I have a tendency to whine, sleep, and read. In other words, it's not all that different from when I'm healthy. At any rate, the other night, after finishing my book, I ended up reading Rolling Stone's, "100 Greatest Singers" and saw that Paul Rodgers from Bad Company came in at number fifty-five. Though they don't need my approval, I must admit - it was a good pick. After all, when Jim Morrison (number 47) died, the Doors wanted him and - more impressively, after Freddie Mercury died, Rodgers toured with Queen. For the record (no pun intended), Freddie Mercury was number eighteen on Rolling Stone's list.
Now, if you think Paul Rodgers can't bring it, I challenge you to listen to him sing, "I Want it All." Keep in mind that Freddie never performed it live because he was so sick. If you want to hear him, you have to listen to the album, and - if you've never heard it, go do it now. That said, if you listen to it and hear a man ravaged by AIDS instead of an artist's sheer will power and ability to accomplish perfection regardless of his circumstances, you're dead to me.
But I digress, the point is that only a handful of days ago, my mother went into congestive heart failure again. By the time I got the call, she had already been stabilized and was lucid. In fact, I was lucky enough to talk to her shortly thereafter. Like every good mom she said, "You're sick. Please don't drive or fly home while you have the flu. You'll never get better. Besides, if you walk through the door, I'll be convinced that I'm dying and no one wants to tell me."
You laugh, but when my dad was diagnosed with liver cancer, he told the doctors and all of us that he didn't want to hear the details. He knew it was fatal but he didn't want to know how long he had. He didn't want to be told what to expect. He wanted his life to be on his terms, including what he did, how he felt, and when he died... not according to some self-fulfilling prophesy that a team of doctors handed to him. For the record (again no pun intended), it worked. A headache remained a headache, a stomach ache remained a stomach ache, a muscle spasm remained a muscle spasm - not a symptom that the end was near or an omen of terrible things to come.
Like my mom, he was adamant that I not come home when I couldn't. Instead, we talked on the phone several times a week and wrote long, rambling letters to one-another, much like the non-sequiturs that I blog about… and music. We talked a lot about music. As a professional Jazz pianist for more than fifty years he was fortunate enough to meet, watch, and jam with a lot of pretty relevant musicians. Plus, he just knew a lot about music.
Anyway, when I talked to my mom and mentioned that DB is playing in a band again, I was blown away by how much she knew about Blues. She’s a CPA with an MBA who was an Executive all of her life. This is a woman who admits that she voted for Nixon and may have actually missed the Sixties. Seriously. Upon hearing the shock in my voice, she said, “Honey, I spent almost as many nights watching your father play piano as he spent playing.”
You know, I simply never thought about it.
At any rate, given that she dropped a bomb on me, I felt obligated to share my day with her, including the fact that during lunch, my straight, hot friend admitted that he stripped his way through college. Yes. Really. And that’s when I told my WASP mother that I’d missed my calling. I should have been a DJ at a male strip club, because – honestly – if the movie Magic Mike has taught us anything, it’s this... unlike men who prefer their strippers with no clothes or plot, women want their dancers to emote and I want to give that to them. I have no desire to see men pull-off their pants. I want to see them pull-off stripping to Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler or Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson. Think about it:
- Cost of a drink at a strip club - Seven dollars
- Cost of a lap dance - One dollar
- Watching some pompous, fully-waxed, twenty-five year old guy's face as Amazing Grace comes over the speakers and he has to drop it like it's hot - Priceless
After she told me she’d miss me because she was certain that I was going to Hell, we laughed ourselves into a coughing frenzy. Given that I only had the flu but she was recovering from congestive heart failure, I was certain that this would kill her and that my siblings would kill me because of it. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. Instead, I get the opportunity to spend another Mother's Day with her. That's right. I'm going home to Appalachia. I might be bad company but I’m a good daughter.
Besides, even if it weren't a holiday to celebrate the incredible job she's done raising us, I'd want to see her. Like my father, she’s my hero. Even from a hospital bed, she could laugh and she could make me laugh. I guess that, while the exuberant cry of youth may be, "I Want It All and I Want it Now," the wisdom and temperance of age gives you a different perspective: who you are when it's hard is who you really are and what you do with the time you have is totally your choice. To quote Dylan Thomas, “Do not go gentle into that good night.” It worked for Freddie Mercury... It worked for my dad... Clearly it works for my mother and I hope to God that it works for me.
Talk to you later.