INVITATION by Shel Silverstein
If you are a dreamer, come in.
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer . . .
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire,
For we have some flax golden tales to spin.
Come in! Come in!
My mom read that poem to me most every night when I was a child. I am certain that my life-long love of reading and writing came from that one poem. She read me “A Boy Named Sue” from the same book and then played the song for me. As soon as the connection between writing and music was made – there was no turning back. I am a product of a woman who would cry as she sang along to “Me And You Against The World” and laugh hysterically as we hammed our way though “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah”. We would sing “All I Ask Of You” every chance we got. We rocked out to Barry Manilow. She taught me what the protest songs of the 60s were really about. Were the times really a-changin’? You bet your ass they were – and she was right there making them!
She marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. in Chicago. She fought for everything she ever saw as true and right and good and always urged me to do the same. Nothing was out of my reach because nothing seemed out of hers. My mother was and remains the single noblest woman I have ever known. And amazingly she somehow tempered that noble spirit with humility and unselfishness. Time will undoubtedly wash some of my memories away but these are the sorts that stay with a person. This is another lesson taught to me at a young age – even if what you’re fighting for looks wrong to others a bit of humility on your part will often win their hearts more than any words you can speak.
There are times strangers will approach me and comment that my children are being well behaved. After making sure they’re talking about MY kids I smile politely and tell them that the next time they see my mom they should tell her that. That’s the funny thing about being a parent – sometimes your influence isn’t totally apparent until your kids have kids of their own. I can only impart to my children what my parents imparted to me. As much as my dad taught me about being a fun yet firm parent, my mother taught me how to be a compassionate and understanding one. It’s a delicate balance that they both seemed to juggle with an ease and finesse I can only hope to imitate in some small way.
My mom will not be soon forgotten. She was small yet larger than life. She was never soft-spoken yet chose every word with care. She was the kind of woman I wish everyone could know. That, to me at least, sounds like a great start toward a happier future.