I'm afraid to ask my mother what she wants for Mother's Day this year. Last year, her request was unreasonable.
"You have six months to marry!" she said.
The truth is that I long to be married happily married. Mark Twain found such happiness with his wife. He wrote that there is no greater
beauty and sweetness than the closeness of a husband and wife who adore each other, and that is what I long for.
But it's hard to find women to adore these days. And that's partly ma's fault.
You see, my ma is one in a million. She was born with the gift of clarity. She knows what really matters and what really doesn't. Here's what
matters: people, family, honesty, beauty, laughter. Here's what doesn't: power, status, material things and most anything worldly.
My ma laughs easily at the most simple things. The only thing she likes more than laughing is making other people laugh. Years ago, ma used
to stage children's parties, where she would entertain with her puppets and stories, or dress up as Big Bird or a clown.
Well, one day, while dressed as a clown, she got pulled over by the police. Apparently, there was a bank robbery by someone dressed as a
clown, and ma was, at that moment, the leading suspect. Her response: great heaping fits of laughter.
But she's dead serious where it matters. She never took guff from any doctor, when she believed the doctor wasn't paying close enough
attention to one of her loved ones. She'd research the ailment obsessively until she knew more about it than the doc, and then she'd demand,
and get, the care she wanted.
She is also dead serious about virtues of every kind, and they better be present, loud and clear, in her children and grandchildren. She sits back
for a good long while when one of us goes astray, not to intervene until we near the cliff. Thus, the e-mails she began sending to me:
"You have five months, one week, four days, two hours and 12 minutes to get married!"
But, ma, I tried to explain. The world is so complex these days. It's not like the old days when you got a job, worked 35 years, then retired. The
world is moving at light speed. It's much harder to find a woman you can stay with forever.
"You have four months, two weeks, six days, 12 hours and three minutes!"
But, ma, I said, being 44 today isn't like it was when you were young 44 is the new 34! And I'm going to live until at least 100. If I marry now,
that means I'll be married for 56 years. That's even too long to do something fun!
"You have three months, three weeks, five days, 18 hours and 12 minutes!"
But, ma, I said, I've got the world by its tail. People don't marry the way they used to. There are lots of single women out there in every age
group. Why would I want to pick just one!
"You have two months, three weeks, six days, seven hours and 18 minutes!"
But, ma, I said, any fool can get married. Half of my friends are divorced already. I don't want that. I want to feel about my wife the way Mark
Twain felt about his I want to adore her, just as my dad adores his wife.
In fact, the only women who can invoke adoration are the women whose lives are a celebration of what really matters: family, people, laughter,
honesty, beauty. But do you know how hard it is to find these qualities anymore?
So many people these days are consumed by their careers and their things. That includes single women. They work long hours, drive nice cars,
vacation at nice places. As they climb the corporate ladder, they are stressed and fatigued and too busy to delight in the simple beauty that is
so evident to my ma. I hold no interest in such worldliness, so how can I possibly adore a woman who does?
Ma had but one response to that:
"You have two months, one week, three days, two hours and six minutes to marry!"