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  • Post published:May 1, 2024

The Sunday night before she died was the night of the Oscars. I intended to watch the first hour then go to bed because of an early rehearsal call the next day. When J.K. Simmons won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in “Whiplash,” and gave his wonderful acceptance speech praising his wife, kids, and then his parents, I was moved.

I am fortunate enough to have been parented well, to have married well (above my station, most would say), and to have participated in the rearing of two wonderful daughters. As Mr. Simmons expressed thankfulness that his children possessed more of the admirable qualities of their mother than of him, I too acknowledged my gratitude to Kay sitting on the sofa beside me that the deep gene pool of her virtues had dominated in creating the DNA of our girls.

Mr. Simmons expressed his humble gratitude to the most important people in his life ending with his parents. But it was his last words that brought my personal conviction: “…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.” That was enough. I rose from the sofa and told Kay I was going 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 from one of her children. However, she informed me that she had just come in from having dinner with my brother and his wife, thus the vibrant “hello” when answering the phone.

I explained how Mr. Simmons had inspired me, then said, “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, and I’m eternally grateful for all you and Dad have done.”

As I was about to settle in to “…listen to [her] for as long as [she] wanted to talk to [me],” she responded with: “Oh Sweetie that is so nice of you. I love you too and am so proud of you and appreciate what you’ve just said, but “Downtown Abby” is about to start and I need to go to the bathroom, so can we wrap this up?”

It was a perfect Mom moment. There would be other opportunities for a mutual-admiration-society chat so we said goodbye and hung up. Some time that night, I assume after watching the latest episode of “Downtown Abby,” she went to sleep and her body released her spirit. I’m sure no amount of praise from her son could compare to the joy she experienced when entering her heavenly home.