On summer days, my happy place is not a beach or mountain path. It’s so much more (or less) than that (depending on how you look at it). My happy place, when the weather’s warm and the days and nights are long and quiet, is by your side wherever you are. My happy place on summer days (and winter, fall, and spring days, too) is a whole world: me and you.
My mom and I were having a funny conversation a couple of weeks ago, talking about how stubbornness runs in the family. Like, both families. My dad’s and my mom’s. And so I come by my stubbornness honestly, and I told her that. I added that out of the three of us, I thought I was probably the least stubborn, and my dad was the most. She said she’s much less stubborn than me. I told her she’s absolutely more stubborn than I am. (Though we both seemed to agree that my dad is the most stubborn of all of us, so there’s that, I suppose.)
This (good-natured) back and forth went on for a little while, and then Graham (poor Graham), came upstairs to make a cup of coffee. So of course, I asked him to settle the matter and declare which of us – my mom or me – was the least stubborn.
“Your mom,” he said. “You’re so much more stubborn than your mom.”
She burst out laughing. I objected. The conversation eventually moved on.
And then I sat down today to write a poem for the blog. I wasn’t even thinking of the stubbornness conversation. Honestly, I was sitting in my chair looking outside at the sunshine and the cardinals in the yard, happy as a clam.
But, well, this is what I wrote:
Please, by all means, tell me I can’t. There is no better way on the face of this planet to ensure that not only can I, I will.
“What lovely flowers,” I say, and what I mean is: “I see how much work it took to create this blissful space. It’s something I could never do, at least, not without significant difficulty. I appreciate the beautiful things you’ve planted and nurtured. I can see the love in your heart, because you’ve poured it into these little pink sunbursts, and all of the others around us, too. I’m grateful for this time with you in your garden.” But that’s a mouthful and a half, and we’ve got limited time this visit. So what I say is simply, “What lovely flowers.” And I trust that you’ll get the message.
I have my mother’s eyes. I have her temper, too, and her stubborn streak. (Just ask my dad.) I have her joy in reading – not from inheritance, but habit – and, I hope, also, her kindness. My mother taught me to laugh, and grace and patience. And she gave me part of herself: years of time, of being together, of lessons, of hugs and of presents, and of watching her wild child grow. She gave a million little moments to build me up. I have my mother’s heart, a lifetime’s worth of love, the greatest treasure. And she has mine.
“Smile,” they said, and I did, crooked. “Your eyes are closed.” Unsurprising. “We’ll try again,” they offered, which was kind all things considered, especially the line that day. What can I say? I’ve never been what they call photogenic. I’m good with it. I hear a picture’s worth a thousand words, and well, pictures of me will certainly get you talking.