It’s Mother’s Day this weekend, so I can’t help thinking of Mom, an important influence.
I have a wolf. She has white eyelashes. If that isn’t freaky enough, she has teeth like a shark, and is very, very smart. Maybe too smart. She’s always “the smartest person in the room,” as they say, at least when I’m with her alone.
White Fang Erskine is her name, and each day, she wakes me, putting her snout on the edge of the bed and huffing a couple of times like an old horse. She bats her white eyelashes, over those Dodger-blue eyes.
She’s really quite stunning, and like a lot of stunning things, she is a total handful, almost too hot to touch, or even argue with.
Chris Erskine: She was hell in high heels, my mom #mothersday @erskinetimesTweet
In time, you just marvel over that and adjust your life. Handfuls are miracles. They can change your life.
As I said yesterday, I specialize in difficult women, starting with my own mom. It’s Mother’s Day this weekend, so I can’t help thinking of Mom, an important influence.
She was more French than Napoleon, and fancy like Audrey Hepburn. A tomboy too.
A good cook. A master mechanic, she could fix a mower. An amateur seamstress, she could hem a skirt.
Loved her morning glories. Loved her life.
See, she wasn’t just any mom. Honestly, are any moms like any other moms?
She sang “Frere Jacques” on car trips, for christ’s sakes, that’s how French she was.
“Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques,
She even walked the dog in high heels – her, not the dog. But if she could’ve put the dog in heels, I’m sure she would have. And maybe a light little cashmere sweater.
My mom was hell on high heels. Sent me off to kindergarten when I was 3, the way fathers send difficult sons off to join the Marines. I didn’t mind. I was 3. What else did I have to do?
Besides, I immediately fell for Kathy Kelley, an older woman, age 5. Unlike me, she was fully potty trained. Still is today, and I am still in love with her 60 years later.
See? Moms know best.
My mom once rode a mini-bike, that’s the kind of mother she was. It was the age of mini-bikes, and the Wagner boys had brought their chattering mini-bikes over to the house, and my mom – the French showboat, the life of the party — jumped aboard one of the mini-bikes and off she went, not knowing where the brakes were.
That’s how my mom lived her life. Full throttle, not knowing where the brakes were.
Once, she tried water skiing. When she fell, she didn’t let go of the rope and we just dragged her for about 10 seconds, underwater like Aquaman, till my dad finally said, “You know, I think she’s still on.”
It was as if we’d hooked a marlin.
So we stopped the boat, circled back around, saw something bobbing in the water. Mighta been Mom. Mighta been a muskrat. Her hair was plastered to her head in a way we’d never seen, and her swim suit was sort of askew, in troubling ways. We’d never seen her defeated quite like that.
You couldn’t really tell Mom anything. But bravely, we gave her a very important life tip: When you fall off your water skis, it’s generally a good idea to let go of the rope.
“You do it your way, I’ll do it mine,” she said. “Just give me the stupid rope.”
I miss Mom, gone now almost 10 years. On Sunday, we’ll celebrate Mother’s Day, and I don’t have many mothers in my life anymore: no mom, no grandmas, no wife.
But I had her a very long time, the best mother ever. The one who never let go of the rope.
Happy Mother’s Day.