Last month I got to memorialize my dad’s death with an anecdote about air guitar and middle fingers. In an unwelcome telenovela twist this month I get to mourn my mom’s passing.
From son to orphan in exactly one month.
I don’t think I’m a violent man but if cancer were a person I’d tap it on the shoulder, suckerpunch it, knee it in the nads, and throw it under a double decker bus so that all the people on the bus could also feel some satisfaction.
Unlike my dad and me, my mom and I had a very uncomplicated relationship. It went like this: I did whatever I wanted and she thought whatever I was doing was simply the best thing ever. If I were a serial killer you’d best believe she would be rubbing my back and whispering “he is the best serial killer” to everyone in the courtroom.
Whenever I hear someone begin the “my family is so weird” preamble I’m pretty confident that I’m about to hear something decidedly un-weird. That said, my mom led what I think was an impressively unorthodox life.
Before I celebrate some of the endearingly eccentric stuff lemme first commend her love of photography, a passion she discovered with her first box camera as a kid and which she eventually parlayed into a career (for a while she photographed real estate and obliviously referred to those jobs as “drive-by shootings”).
But the rest of her pursuits were interestingly varied, and often downright adventurous.
She was a licensed airplane pilot, as well as a licensed live auctioneer.
She was a certified dental assistant, and a certified emergency responder.
She opened a bakery and, later, a hot dog cart.
(As an adult) She had a pet goat that she walked around town on a leash.
She was an amateur astronomer and meteorologist.
She could drive both a motorcycle and an 18-wheeler (though not at the same time).
She once piloted the Fuji blimp.
I earned my role in All You Can Eat because she sent me off to my audition with a bag of cookies to share with everyone. She eventually became the de facto shuttle driver for every one of my bands that flew into or out of the Bay Area, always having cookies and Snapples on-the-ready for everyone (this was her most blatent mom move).
She could fix things around the house and wasn’t afraid to get under the hood of her car.
She disliked the Beatles but tolerated the Stones. In 5th grade she bought me Cheech and Chong’s “Get Out of My Room” but wouldn’t let me see AC/DC because she didn’t like the font in which their logo was written.
Oh, right, she was also a graphic designer for magazines and advertisements.
During the leaner years, when US Air Guitar were no longer on a tour bus, my mom was the unofficial driver and photographer for a number of our West Coast jaunts, and took preternaturally well to the long drives, late nights, and the incessant farting and giggling.
She attended Laughing Yoga classes.
She ran her own pet care business.
She was a revered nanny.
She was an avid community volunteer.
She was a high-octane grandmother.
I just found twelve (12) active boxes of cereal in her cupboard, and eight (8) bars of chocolate in her bedside table.
Both of my parents seemed to genuinely enjoy hanging out with my friends, which is somehow of great comfort to me right now (They also separated when I was 1 and still enjoyed hanging out with each other).
One thing she did that drove me bonkers, though, was always giving me greeting cards. I got the usual birthday and Christmas cards, but I also received the purely Hallmark holiday cards too, like Valentine’s and New Year’s. I was even given basic “thinking of you” cards even though we saw each other in person almost daily.
When I got those cards I did not receive them in the spirit in which they were intended. Instead I exercised that eons-old birthright that allows a son to be an indignant, bratty ingrate to his mother because he knows she’ll still be his mother tomorrow no matter how much of an asshole he is today. I laid into her for being so shallow as to think a sheet of cardstock with pre-printed words that someone else wrote was somehow a satisfactory way to communicate. (And don’t get me started on how irrationally annoyed I got about the squiggly lines she’d add under particular words for emphasis.)
Buuuttt… What I just learned from my aunties was that my mom would spend hours in card shops finding cards that said what she herself felt she was unable to articulate. To her these words were 100% genuine representations of how she felt, and I will forever be haunted by my indignation towards her over this. Mom, if you’re reading this – I’m sorry for being such a jerk all those times but I am finally now being able to really appreciate some of those things that used to only get me annoyed. I love you and I miss you horribly. And hopefully wherever you’re getting the internet to read this you’re also still able to use our Netflix password.
The song below is full of the same kinds of trite and hackneyed sentiments that I was so critical of above. But despite this, most of the lyrics are coincidentally very relevant and keenly accurate in saying how I feel right now. So, in honor of my mom, I’m going to lean into them.
“Thinking of you till it hurts”
“I’m so lost without you”
“It can’t be too late to say that I was so wrong”
(In your mind’s eye please add squiggles under “you” “hurts” “lost” and “so wrong”)
And now back to our regularly scheduled program…
In a country already lousy with sensational Rock ‘n’ Roll acts, Australia’s Air Supply still manages to rise above like a pair of Crocs in the Sydney Harbor. When you’re up against such massive monumental musical mainstays as Bee Gees and The Wiggles you need to be bringing that A-game (and it probably helps when you actually start your band name with the letter A).
If you were to Google “love songs” you can count on two things: Air Supply will show up multiple times on the first page of results, and my band whose literal name is “The Love Songs” will not show up at all. I’m hoping the 15+ views the following video receives will help close that gap.
Deep from the video vaults of my VHS home movie collection comes this gentle entry into the mild annals of the Soft Rock canon. In the words of Jackson Huffman, famed children’s music theater actor (and one-time axe-man for Love Songs), ARE YOU MOTHERFUCKERS READY TO LITE ROCK??
Download audio here