I started a poem in my dream. I worked and worked through the rigorous process as I do in the day, felt the thrill of seeing the words come together. I wrote a real poem in my sleep – actually, a pretty good one. And then I — WOKE. I surfaced tired from all that thinking and by the time the grogginess had lifted, I’d lost the precious fruit of my labor to the daylight. It would’ve been too late to snatch it, preserve it, even with my blog book on hand. Aughhh. How do I take the notebook into sleep with me?
Samsung, Dell, Apple: Here, your next patent idea. I want 30%.
I shared this story with some friends last year, just before Mother’s Day:
I was in third grade. I awoke one morning in our New York one-bedroom to the sound of piano keys going. Mom’s surprise. She had saved I don’t know how long waitressing, for her dream. She’d never gotten to learn herself and had chased the vision of her daughter’s playing. Korean Mom of course had to get the best. I don’t know how in the world she managed to tuck away enough for a new Yamaha, a beautiful rich brown. Thankfully I picked it up easily, performed solos in elementary and junior high, went on to teach and compose. Mom said the apartment came alive whenever I’d play on visits from Pennsylvania during college and the working years. But when I relocated to California 11 yrs ago, the piano sat with no more songs; to Mom and Dad, the keyboard was a tangible part of their girl on the other side of the country, and to me always the testament of varicose veins a mother had earned waiting tables and walking in 11 at night.
With no other recourse, my parents sold the piano and were so thankful to be able to give me something when I got married. It was a bittersweet parting, for them and for me, but the practicality of it quieted my regrets. Though I was able to play on campus and at church during college, it’s been more than 20 years since I had a piano of my own. It so happens I married another dreamer. It hurt Peter for my parents to have had to sell the sacred memento of Mom’s love for me and, in his words, for my “talent to have gone unwatered” all these years. The piano that my husband has been saving for, prospecting, rolled in through the door yesterday morning. Shiny black, she slipped right into the console recess as if the space in the wall had been cut for her. The Yamaha looked made for our home. Tennyson was so excited watching Mom on the keyboard and Peter said I played as he’d waited for in his head.
The question is one of roots and shoots; where we come from, what we’ve sprouted from that. What is the best nonmaterial gift you ever received from Mom? I wonder what T will answer as a grown man. There is no way he could ever be grateful enough for all I pour into him with my body, heart, and mind. Much of mothering will remain unsung. So goes our job description:
Hours – Overtime
Pay – The joy in the labor
Must be taken for granted
But what part of it will have impressed itself most deeply upon his consciousness when he is ready to build his own life?
At a restaurant one night with a friend way back, I realized in the talking and sharing just how much the affirmation from my parents – especially my mother – rooted me deeply and well in life. The extent to which her genuine verbal confidence in me has rippled throughout my life and relationships became startingly clear.
Two months ago, I received an email from Li, whom I’d like to meet someday. She was planning a gift for Francesca, a mutual friend who is expecting, and asked for three things: a bead (of any sort) and two notes, a well wish for the Mom-to-Be and a well wish for the baby. The beads formed the necklace, a collective token of love from Francesca’s friends. The well wishes for the baby were transformed into an origami mobile.
This gift idea is one of the most thoughtful I’ve come across. It was all a lot of work. Li contacted Francesca’s friends in secret. Handiwork lovely, too.