Archive for November 13th, 2011

When Jonah was three, his teacher asked me to send in pictures of our family for a special project.  The project turned out to be laminated colored paper pages made into a book – one photo to each page, and a little saying like “this is my daddy.  I like to play with daddy.”   Though the book is certainly not well preserved anywhere, I still have some of the pages.  One is pinned over my desk at work.   My page is orange, and in the picture I am smiling;  2-year old Jonah, next to me, looks blandly into the camera, one thumb in his mouth.  His hair has been sun-dyed a beautiful fresh straw color, and he seems content and almost confident.  The page says:  This is my mommy.  I love my mommy.

On weekdays when I come in to work it is early.  I put classical music on, loud, and stare at the picture.

Usually the music is Rachmaninoff’s piano concerto number 2 or 3, or Bach’s 1st, or Chopin’s 2nd, or anything at all by Mozart.

My late friend Gina was one of only two or three people I’ve ever been come across who loved the classical masterpieces like I do.  She loved them even more intimately than I, making ceremony out of the listening – lighting candles and incense, plumping up her feather-bed just so and lying back, eyes closed, to let the music enter her.  There is a secret in these masterpieces and it’s got nothing to do with how to drink tea pretentiously, your pinky in the air.  I wonder why that’s always the perception.  I think some classical music is boring and for me a little harpsichord goes a long way, but in general I think it’s fantastic.  Magnifico.

The guy who laid down the music tracks for the Bugs Bunny cartoons understood.  He used Flight of the Valkyrie and all kinds of other fun classics as perfect accompaniment to those cartoons.  One of my all time favorites has Elmer Fudd dressed in opera costume, singing kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit, kill the waaaaaaa—-bit as he pursues Bugs amid lightning strikes and ominous clouds.  Awesome.

Gina and I went to see the Philadelphia Orchestra at Saratoga Performing Arts Center every year during their month long residence, buying lawn seats, usually.  We’d have a big blanket and something to cushion our heads.  Wine and cheese.  The warmth of summer evenings under a spray of stars.  Add Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and I don’t know what’s better.

Since she’s been gone I’ve dragged people there…

I’ll buy your ticket!  It’ll be wonderful!

…but it isn’t the same as going with someone who loves it as you do.  “How much longer?” one unhappy acquaintance even asked me at an all-Tchaikovsky performance.  Really? When it’s so heart-wrenchingly beautiful?

Hell, channel 1069 (classical masterpieces) is the best show on cable TV.

But I digress.  The picture in my office, above my desk.  It’s one of my favorite pictures of Jonah and me, and when I look at it I feel reaffirmed as his mother.

This is my mommy.  I love my mommy.

His father is so much closer to him, geographically and emotionally.  It is Andy he runs to, cries for.  Jonah is his daddy’s boy.   When I talk to other parents of special needs kids (in both the cyber and real worlds), I always expect to find more of them like me, with marriages didn’t make it.   I hear these statistics about how 70 or 80 percent of couples with special needs kids end up divorced.  Where are all these mythical broken couples?  Most of the parents I meet are in religious marriages, so they turn to God, praying and trusting, struggling, but struggling together and making it.  My marriage = Andy, an agnostic/athiest, and me, who I’d best describe as ecumenical sprinkled with Buddhist.  I’m not saying that we were an ideological mismatch, but there’s something to be said for shared faith.

I once saw a bumper sticker that said  Militant Agnostic:  I don’t know and neither do you. 

Whatever the case about Divinity, I shall thank Thee for Saturday’s visit with Jonah, which was on a sunshiny-cool day.  Jonah was so good!

We sang, he laughed, we ate sandwiches and chips, pizza rolls, cheese doodles, grapes, and of course drank some black soda – then he wanted car ride and park.  He always chooses the first swing on the set.

My mom rides back to the apartment in the front with Andy, and Jonah and I chill in the backseat, having safe hands (a request from Jonah, if you can believe it, for me to put my hands over his.  It’s as if he knows he might not be able to control himself enough to not hurt me).  So, hands entwined, Jonah and I sing Guster songs from their latest CD, Easy Wonderful, that my boy memorized when the album came out and I played it 55 billion times with him in the car.

Never let it be said I don’t know how to brainwash my son.  We sing together; our eyes meet and lock for long moments, mine pouring love, his asserting:  This is my mommy.  I love my mommy.

And so I am back, writing.  Just after I’d so emotionally bade farewell – in French, even.  I am flattered by the comments and e-mails from people telling me they will miss my blog, or asking me to please keep writing.  Thank you, my peeps.  Your kindness means more to me than you’ll ever know.

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