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Ode to Mom

February 18, 2010

I know I already wrote a mushy love letter to my wife and now I’m writing an “Ode to Mom” but I can’t control the calendar.  Now that I think about it, that would be my superhero power of choice, if there were such a thing as superheroes. 

Today is my Mom’s birthday.  Last week I wrote of my insatiable wanderlust.  Guess where I got it?  That’s right, I inherited it from good ol’ Mom.  I remember in high school, back in the 80’s when I had the most awesome mullet you’ll never see, she’d get a wild hair on the weekends.  Mom, my brother Erik and me, would all wake up and eat breakfast.  Erik and I always thought we’d have a normal day and do normal teenager stuff like ride bikes or have pellet gun wars in the mountains by our house.  Mom often had other plans.  We’d all pile into her car and head off to unknown destinations outside Phoenix.

One time we drove the entire Apache Trail in Mom’s Monte Carlo.  Mid-80’s Monte Carlos probably were not designed to drive 40+ miles on a rough dirt road.  Another time we drove up to Sedona, walked around Tlaquepaque, ate lunch and drove home.  Some weekends we’d even drive to Los Angeles to visit aunts, uncles and grandparents.  Never were these impromptu trips planned.  They just…happened.  Mom’s wanderlust gnawed at her until she had to feed it with a trip, even if that trip only lasted a few hours.

I don’t remember ever seeing a map in the car.  There were no cell phones and I’m pretty sure Mom didn’t know how to change a tire.  We usually didn’t drive with any destination in mind and I know she didn’t tell a friend where we were headed.  Mom would just point the Monte Carlo in a direction and drive until she saw something that interested her.  We’d stop to check it out, maybe eat lunch at a random diner in a dirty little town, and then we were back on the road to nowhere and everywhere. 

It was those early explorations and spur of the moment trips that made me who I am today.  Because of Mom I love to travel.  I love to see new things, meet new people and find totally obscure new places.  Because of Mom I’ll take a road trip over a flight any time I can.  I’ll see a dirt road and before I realize it, I’m half a mile off the highway in the middle of nowhere with a huge smile on my face and love in my heart.

My Mom passed away unexpectedly a few days after my birthday in November, 2001.  Her birthday is always the most difficult day of the year for me.  I hate that my son will never meet his Grandma, or get to take one of those wild road trips with her.  He’ll never see the mischievous sparkle in her eye when wanderlust consumes her soul and pushes her out the door and into the driver’s seat.  I do hope he’ll see it in me, and that I will pass it along to him.

I miss you terribly, Mom.  I wish you were here so we could take a birthday road trip together.  We’d find a diner, eat some greasy food and make friends with a local, then we’d be on our way.  Thank you for instilling within me a desire to experience the world around me and to never let an opportunity for an impromptu road trip pass me by.  As Melissa, Jackson and I pack our things on your birthday for our trip to Arizona I hope you’re smiling down with that knowing glint in your eye.

Happy birthday, Mom.  I sure do love you!

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