— Stevie Wonder
American singer and songwriter
(b. May 13, 1950)
Your special day has arrived and that makes it even harder to believe you’ve been gone almost nine years.
Seems like just yesterday we were enjoying an early morning cup of joe at the kitchen table while the others slept and you were filling me in on all the latest news involving the family in distant towns and neighboring states.
You’d talk and talk about the happenings with all the grown cousins and their kids, and I’d listen and listen to a voice seasoned in love and long on experience. We’d talk of Dad too, and I was always amazed at how you rebounded after his loss in ’91.
Dad was a good sort. He wasn’t perfect, but he was a good man. You two never made it to 50 years and that was an injustice. But a life of hard knocks — compounded by the emotional wounds of a World War II soldier who believed in right in spite of a world filled with wrongs — finally took its toll. Dad was a fighter until the end, but in the end he was little more than a shell of the man who once adored the cleansing air of a stroll in the woods, an exhilarating snow and the sweet fragrance of Prince Albert pipe tobacco.
Mom, I’m hoping you get this letter in time. Mother’s Day is just around the corner and I’m not up to speed on the timeliness of postal deliveries to heaven. I’m sure they’ll do their best. If you haven’t heard, the Post Office folks are a few billion in debt. Not a good sign, but since saying our farewells at the cemetery on that rainy afternoon a lot has happened.
Nowadays, everybody’s into electronics. You can’t push your cart down the grocery aisle without being blocked by somebody paying more attention to their cellphone than their grocery list. And out on the roads? Don’t get me started! It’s a madhouse. They call it “distracted driving.” It’s nuts, Mom. Just pure nuts.
Folks have forgotten how to talk ... to each other. The other night, Trina and I were eating out here in town. At a neighboring booth, another couple sat. Sitting across from one another, the guy kept looking down and checking email messages on what they call an iPhone, and the lady was in the middle of a no-holds barred chat with a girlfriend on her cell. Sounded like somebody had man problems. I think it was the girlfriend. I don’t think the guy checking his emails heard a word.
Society also has iPads, laptops and the Internet, as well as this thing called Skyping. Just picture “Star Trek,” minus Kirk, Spock and McCoy. Mom, we’re in the middle of 2013 fast approaching 3000. But I’m not sure we’ll make it.
And Mom, you wouldn’t believe how many cable stations we get now. I’m guessing about a thousand. Takes until bedtime to surf all those channels from one end to the other. Yes ma’am, it’s expensive. But in Cleveland we have lots of banks.
We haven’t talked lately, but if you’ve been looking down from your cloud you know I got back into newspaper work. It happened about three years ago. I’m not sure what I was thinking. I remember you always liked it when I was in this field the first time around. We’ll see how it goes. Right now, well ... let’s just say right now the jury’s still out.
Heaven probably doesn’t have many TVs so I’m not sure what you’re doing for Sunday afternoon football. My oh my, how you loved those Green Bay Packers. I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but Brett Favre finally retired. Rest assured, the Cheeseheads have kept on winning. Vince Lombardi can rest easy. By the way, have you met him? I assume he made it up there, didn’t he?
Mom, I can’t tell you how I miss our occasional weekend visits over to your place. And Thanksgiving and Christmas? Those were some special times in our family. I miss those too. I miss my brother and my sister and their grown kids. We don’t see much of one another since you left. I figured it was going to be that way. They have busy, busy lives and they have their own grown kids and grandkids.
We stay in touch through this electronic gizmo called Facebook, the successor to telephones. It gets back to that Internet thing I mentioned earlier. Our new e-world calls it “social media.” Frankly, I can’t believe some of the stuff people say on it. You’d be shocked. But then, you didn’t own a computer anyway.
I miss our family get-togethers and how we’d gather around the TV and watch funny movies. “Young Frankenstein,” “Blazing Saddles” and anything by Mel Brooks were always a crowd favorite. Of course, you loved John Wayne, old Westerns and scary flicks like vampires and werewolves. Go figure.
I guess in heaven you’re enjoying some everyday reunions with all the loved ones we’ve lost over the years. How are Papaw and Mamaw Denson doing and is Papaw still calling all dogs “rabbit hounds?” How about Granddaddy and Grandmother Norton? And does Grandmother still churn her own butter, even in heaven?
How about Uncle Norris and Aunt Ruth? And Uncle John? And Aunt Jewel? Oh, I’m hoping you run into cousin Maria every now and then. Folks here are always amazed when I tell them I had a natural-born German cousin. Their ears really perk when I tell them how Maria survived the Holocaust.
Well Mom, I need to go. It’s getting late and I’m still at work.
Tell all the other kin up there I said “hi.” You folks don’t let yourselves get caught up in too many hot “Rook” games on Cloud 9 or whichever one it is you call home. We don’t need loved ones falling over the edge. They do have “Rook” up there, don’t they?
As always, give my love to Dad. Tell him to expect his own letter in June.
Until then, you two keep the faith and ask the other angels to watch over us down here. We need the help.
It’s a strange world we live in, Mom. But don’t get me wrong. Life is good. But sometimes life can be a royal pain.
That’s when people down here think about loved ones up there. It gives us hope. And more times than not, hope is all we really need ... and maybe a little love.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!
Flex those wings and let your spirits soar in the soothing breeze of that everyday paradise.
Your loving son,