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Archive for March 27th, 2015

I’m Home, Mom.

“Donna Smith Sucks!” some angered person shouted at me from behind a door.

I had put a political flyer on a door and knocked hoping to ask someone to consider voting for an upstart democratic candidate in a largely republican district.  She had progressive ideas and a relentless energy to fight for people who couldn’t always fight completely for themselves.  Some people weren’t ready for her ideas and her energy.   I ran away from that door, crushed.  I immediately rushed to the nearby creek and threw the rest of the flyers I had into the flowing water.  I just couldn’t stand to have my candidate’s name and mission violated.

I was ten.

Donna Smith is my mom.

She was my hero.

She still is my hero.   My mom has fought harder than anyone I know (or know of) for a better world – for everyone to have a more humane and peaceful existence.   Even when it clearly didn’t benefit her personally to stand up to a mad world she has done it.   Always.  For me, for anyone, for any injustice.  (yes, at one point she even tried to get an Odyssey of the Mind judge to understand the power outlet my team was assigned malfunctioned handicapping our competition team severely… she almost cost us vital points and I pleaded for her to stop even though she was absolutely right.)

Tonight she’s in the hospital.  She survived yet another surgery to remove some ill from her body.  She is fighting what I consider the ultimate injustice – a body horribly betraying such a beautiful person.   Her body has failed her.   The physical world has failed her. For one who has given so much, I am devastated seeing this play out.

My mom is a genius.  She has the gift of words and observation and empathy and everything the very best mother and politician and teacher should have.   She gives completely and has been doing that at least as long as I’ve been a concious being. She raised six children while attempting law school and paying the bills and writing… moving on to political ambitions… taking corporate positions to make sure me and my siblings were fed… freelance writing for newsweek and woman’s world…. completely engaged in our schooling and passions… and still remaining a community advocate.  She has reinvented herself endlessly from mom to writer to financial manager to politician to journalist to care worker to community organizer to wife to grandma to mentor to patient to listener…

And through it all with all of her siblings, her own parents, her other kids… she took every dream and idea and hurt I had seriously.  In 7th grade I had my first crush and was immediately crushed.  I remember crying horribly on my bed wailing to my mom about how much i wanted to be loved and that this was my dream, to have a girl love me.  She petted my head and hugged me and told me “Oh Russ, it will be ok.  There will be so many wonderful people that love you. This has nothing to do with you. You are loved and will always be loved as long as you look for it.”   I never ever forget that.   And she was right.

She’s never turned away my dreams.   in 1988 after I saw Brian Boitano win gold I was convinced the only way to be truly transcendent in life was to ice skate.  She immediately got me into ice skating lessons.  Years before that she somehow provided me private acting coaching after I fell in love with the theater as a 5th grader.   In 8th grade I begged for a weight bench to get in shape and that showed up one christmas.  Every book I ever wanted she found a way to get me.  I remember so many of these formative moments.  There’s not a single moment where I think, “man, mom let me down.”  She never did.

And she always trusted me.  Every bad idea she just let me have and execute – even when I told her I would be spending the night at a hotel after prom in highschool  She just never ever second guessed me. I suspect it was mutual respect.  She told a cop to go away when he tracked me home from skipping school.  She beat off reporters when I left a murder trial.   She’s been gentle when my heart breaks and been kind when I dated “the wrong person” and even supportive when I scored an 8% on a test.   She always fight for a better world and I always try to live up to that.  It all works out if that’s your approach, perhaps.

As I age I turn more to my mom, not less, in the most confusing situations and darkest moments and highest highs.  I make sure to call or text from anywhere I think is new or interesting.  I have called her from every city I’ve visited.  She has always done the same.   She passed onto me a basic love of life.   Just live!

I do not have enough bits in this computer to articulate all of her engagements with the world and with me.   The memories are too lucid and the love too big for words to do it justice.

My mom has never required anything in return.

And to that asshole behind the door, you were so incredibly wrong.  My mom is the best.  I’m home mom.  I just arrived.

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