Got Mom?

11/17/2011 09:02 am ET


Mothers' Day just kind of depresses me since my mom died unexpectedly several years ago. I still miss her even though we didn't have a lot of common ground; she was a devout Christian Scientist and lifelong conservative, whereas I worship at the Church of Stop Shopping and will soon be a card-carrying liberal, literally.

Here she is milking a cow in the summer of 1943 on the farm in Canada where my Scottish grandpa grew a variety of crops and raised cows, pigs, goats, chickens and who knows what else -- you know, the kind of biodiverse, small family farm we sustainable ag advocates are always going on about.

It's a long way from the Los Angeles suburb where my mom and dad raised me and my three older brothers, and the only agricultural act I can recall on my mother's part was the small patch of Swiss chard she planted in our backyard. Having had to churn her own butter and ride a horse to school and rely on an outhouse, she was pretty psyched about convenience foods, cars and modern-day plumbing; she never really romanticized her rural upbringing.

So I guess she might find it kind of funny to see me, a child of the suburbs who's spent most of her adult life in New York City, become a champion of family farmers. But I know she would have supported me, because my parents always did, despite the fact that I rejected their religion and party affiliation (for the record, they had serious buyer's remorse over Dubya and voted for Kerry in 2004) and went through that whole suburb-hating punk rock phase -- oh, wait, I'm still in it! Good thing my dad has such a sense of humor.

All this is just a long-winded way of saying that if you're lucky enough to have a mother who's still alive, give her some credit today even if you don't see eye to eye or you've spent decades in therapy tiptoeing through that maternal minefield.

And I want to give thanks, today, to my stepmother, who stepped in and saved my dad's life. He nearly wasted away after my mom died, whether from depression or because he never learned how to cook, I'm not sure, but in any case, I'm awfully glad they found each other. I think my mom would be, too.