Growing up in the house of a hard working, doing the best she can, but getting no financial help, single mother made holidays a bit…prickly. There were birthdays that were never brought up, not because she didn’t want us to celebrate, (we were poor not Jehovah) but because there was no extra money to spend on gifts, parties or cakes. Christmas was the most uncomfortable, I was born in love with the commercial idea of Christmas, (was not raised in a religious house) the lights, the gift wrap, the music, the specials on television and the idea of a jolly white bearded man flying all over the world to deliver gifts. It was never the getting of stuff, I never even really thought about getting stuff, but I found the whole thing so enchanting…my mother, well she did not. To her it was just one more reminder of the things she could not give us, it made her feel terrible and it showed. I did my best to contain my excitement around Christmas, even as I kid I understood her plight and how it pained her….never once wanted to make her feel worse.
There was however one holiday that she loved, a holiday we could celebrate as everyone else did, go all traditional and the one time of the year my mother didn’t feel like she was failing us in some way. That holiday was Thanksgiving and when I was little the one thing I would site that I was the most thankful for was, “Mom is happy today”. The last time I saw my mother we had all, gotten together to celebrate her 55th birthday at her favorite restaurant in Long Beach. She looked so happy, grandchildren around her, her favorite cut of prime rib in front of her, her now adult children, (my baby sister had just turned 18 a few days before) taking her out to dinner, she was beaming.
Three days later after returning home from a dinner with her cousin she suffered some shortness of breath while changing into her nightgown, she called 911 and an hour later I got a phone call….she was gone. A blood clot ended her life, a blood clot to her heart, always found some irony in that, her heart was the one thing she always had, it was full of love, pride and hope for her children, the hope that their lives would turn out better than hers. She gave us her heart, it was all she had to give really, and for that I am eternally grateful….to her and to how her rich heart made me strong, made me a fighter and taught me to appreciate the thought in even the tiniest of gestures. No gift wrap, no parties and no amount of birthday cake can compare to the gifts she bestowed upon me. I never got the chance to tell her that, I ran out of time….I can only hope that I made her proud, that I continue to make her proud and the legacy of her full heart will show in the strength and happiness of her daughters.
I think of my mother often but never as much as around Thanksgiving, her happy time. I find that my own heart feels richer, fuller and more tuned in to the things that matter, around Thanksgiving. This is a reflective time for me, a time of happy childhood memories around a table packed with olives, sweet pickles, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls, (she always brushed her dinner rolls with butter and dusted them with sugar before baking, hated them as a kid, make them that way now) bright green sweet peas, raisin studded, buttery stuffing and a golden brown bird…my mother laughing, I remember very little of my childhood, Thanksgiving I always remember. I never want to, “run out of time” again…I want those that I love to know that I love them, I want to be truly grateful for each thing that touches me, changes me and adds to this person that I am. It may be a silly holiday gesture but for me…it means the world to gives thanks.
I am thankful for:
My Son Jeremy, without his entrance into my life I have no idea how far down that slippery slope I would have fallen. Being his mother made me a better person, knowing him makes me a better person and raising such an astonishingly magnificent young man makes me as proud as I have ever been.
My Husband, poor bastard…being married to me is no cake walk I assure you, his patience and understanding of what I need to feel truly happy is unsurpassed. His ability to make me feel safe, really safe in my own skin is unlike anything I had known before him.
My Sister, her laugh simply kills me, don’t even need to know the source of the laughter, just hearing her giggle sends serious shots of happiness to my heart. Her perseverance and dedication to her education, her husband, her puppies…all make me swell with pride, make me think of mom and make me hope that she too knows how much I love her and how grateful I am to have her.
Randy Kemner, my boss and mentor, the man that brought wine into my life, swung the door wide open and urged me to find my palate, my passion and my words to express both. The man that soothed my insecurities, pushed me and changed the way I think about my place or worth, the first man that was ever genuinely proud of me and it shows…all the time. I have bled, cried and poured sweat for Randy and I would do it again in a heartbeat, his love means the world to me and his gift of wine and food will be with me forever.
Michael Sullivan, the man that opened the world to me, showed me France, drove me around the Eiffel Tower….at midnight no less, the wet Paris streets, the trip to France that forever changed me, that last night as I looked from the twinkly lights on the tower back to Michael Sullivan, the way his face bore the wisdom of a teacher, the way it showed me he was willing to teach me…the way he never stopped teaching me. Michael has supported my wine education and pushed me to write like no one ever has…I long to make him proud and always let him know how much his gift has meant to me.
My Girls, (Amy, Merzie and Sonya) three women that can find beauty in me even in my ugliest times, women that love me for everything I am, women that trust me with their hearts and for whom I would walk through fire. Friendship as sound and as strong as we have is a very rare gift and one I have never once taken lightly.
Benito, the first person to really pay attention to this silly blog, my first loyal reader, (that didn’t already know me) that went out of his way to help and encourage me.
Ron Washam, a man that selflessly goes out of his way to make me feel truly adored, makes me feel beautiful, (no easy feat) and encourages me through is adoration and support. He makes me laugh, he makes me blush and he makes me proud to know him, proud that he wants to know me. As smart and funny a writer as I have ever met and I am honored that he reads and loves me.
Red Burgundy, for teaching me that wine can indeed make love to you, seduce you and haunt you.
John Kelly, for making me laugh, standing up for me and letting me close to his life…I am always thinking of you.
Champagne, a wine that stole my heart, honed my palate and my passion for it got me lots of admirers and enormous respect..something I yearned for and now pushes me to learn more. All Of My Readers, you all push me to write, something I have discovered that I love doing, you encourage me, drive me and make me want to share myself, my stories and my rants with all of you…I cherish what you have all given me.
French Fries, as perfect a food as there ever was.
Didier Dagueneau, for showing the world that Sauvignon Blanc, in the right hands, can be a very serious wine. That and for breaking my bawls which knocked some of the shy right off me. You are greatly missed.
Dale Kemner, a woman whose smile melts my heart, a woman whose strength is inspiring and a woman whose adoration means the world to me. The meals, the example you have set, these are things that drive me, make me want to make you proud, one of those smiles and I know you are.
Dave Matthews, for showing me that smart is sexy as hell.
The Wine Country, without it I would never have had much of this list….without it I would have never been me.