Today, blown-out from a bad cold yet ever-vigilant in my pledge to keep America safe by tirelessly monitoring the airwaves, a commercial for JC Penney came on as I sat drooling away my evening in the flickering light of the flat screen.
While I cannot even pretend to understand anything about Penney's new "revolutionary" approach to selling us more stuff, I became transfixed by one of those advertising montages that -- through the use of great looking actors engaged in joyous pursuits such as being tugged by a frisky dog on a leash, spraying each other with water and smiling into one another's eyes by a crackling fire -- make gullible idiots such as myself long for things that are not attainable because they are not real.
Thank you, JC Penney for making
America me feel subconsciously inadequate--but that's a blog for another day. Back to the montage...
In it, a small child decorates a picture window with translucent colored hearts for St. Valentine's Day.
"Oh, what a great idea," I found myself thinking. "I should do that with the boys."
Of course I know that the boys are grown and out. I'm not totally crazy--but it's kind of a knee jerk mommy thing that, for me, has never quite gone away: Gotta cook that, make that, do that...oy vey.
Even though we're far removed from the days of carefully working blunt scissors around the edges of lacy hearts in February, fat green shamrocks in March and the deceptively tricky ovals of pastel eggs in April, am I alone in the occasional maternal flash that it's not finished...that there are still cut-outs to be taped to the windows and that I will, once again, stand back with the boys to admire our work, celebrating afterward with cookies and a hug?
Am I losing my mind?
Nah, it's just Tommy's birthday. Every year at this time, I become totally unhinged by nostalgia. My family expects it and prepares accordingly ("Oh, God. Is that Mom calling again? Whatever you do, do not answer it!!!).
As I reflected on all this, the perfect storm of maudlin delusion and tender reality collided and my sinuses, still compromised from the cold I've been secretly enjoying, refilled (with cement) as the tears made tracks through the moisturizer on my cheeks.
Reaching for the tissues, I dislodged Buzzy who'd been draped across my lap but the sensory memory of that moment wasn't of a warm kitty cat but the weight of the sleeping baby I'd once held...the small boy who leaned against me as we sat in the bay window of our apartment reading the books we'd carried home from the library...the smooth cheek of the teenager, offering his face for a quick kiss as he raced out the door to go meet his friends.
When Tom was a tiny baby, I was intoxicated with the greedy joy of knowing that he would be mine alone for many years before the world would demand I play nice and share him. But, instead, and apparently overnight, the sleepy bundle in a fleece sleeper grew up.
In time-lapse photography, that baby became a boy who always lived large...and loud...and funny... and sweet. And occasionally, of course, mean and often rebellious. Tom is, to this day, a feast for the senses.
Close despite the miles between us, we're often told that we're similar in nature so we know one another well. I can read him and, although I prefer to believe that I am an enigma, Tom reads me right back.
Therefore, he knows exactly how I feel today.