The night before my mother died, Kay and I were watching the Oscars. I intended to go to bed after the first hour because of an early rehearsal call the next day. When J.K. Simmons won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for “Whiplash,” he praised his wife, kids, and then his parents in his acceptance speech.Mr. Simmons praised his mother and father for their contribution in shaping him into the person standing on that stage. His final words were, “…Go call your Mom and your Dad and thank them. Don’t text or e-mail them, but call them and listen to them for as long as they want to talk to you.” Conviction came, and I went to call Mom.
When Mom answered the phone in her bright, cheery voice, I naturally thought she was watching the Oscars and was anticipating this call. However, she informed me that she had just come in from having dinner with one of my siblings, thus the vibrant “hello.” So I explained to her how Mr. Simmons had inspired me.
“Mom, I wanted you to know how thankful I am for your love and encouragement over the years. You and Dad always cared for me and supported me. Whatever good qualities I may have, I know in large part it is because of you and Dad.”
Per Mr. Simmons’ instructions, I was about to settle in to “…listen to [her] for as long as [she] wanted to talk to [me],” but she responded: “Oh Sweetie that is so nice. I love you too and am proud of you and appreciate what you’ve said, but “Downtown Abby” is about to start, and I need to go to the bathroom, so can we wrap this up?”
A perfect Mom response. Believing there would be other opportunities for a mutual-admiration-society chat, we said our goodbyes. Some time that night, I hope after watching “Downtown Abby,” she went to sleep and her body released her spirit. What an extraordinary gift God gave me. To share mutual love and a big laugh with my mother before she shuffled off her mortal coil. For days following, I would whisper my thanks to God for heeding Mr. Simmons’ admonition.
My mother and father did so much to mold and shape my character, mostly for the better. I don’t understand how it all worked except that on my best days I am willing to receive the goodness, the kindness, the faith, the love these two people gave me and allow those qualities to sink deep into my soul. I am a fortunate man.