The Best Mess

The Best Mess

I have been so grateful for the little memories that keep popping up to make me think of my mom. They are not sad at all, but such gifts, often coming out of nowhere to brighten my day, making me smile when I need it most. Something will happen to trigger them- a photo, a song, something someone says, and all of the sudden there is this cozy feeling that my mother is with me again, her loving arms wrapped around my heart.

For as long as I can remember, Mom and I had a running routine; she would be feeling down, beating herself up about something, and would inevitably say, “I’m a mess.” Trying to cheer her up, I would reply, “The best mess!”, and she would smile. It became our thing, to the point that if for some reason I forgot to say my part, she would keep fishing until I did, even up until right before she passed away. There were so many little silly things like that that we did in the old house on Westwood Lane. Mom often said that we grew up together- me physically, and she with her newfound freedom from an oppressive marriage. We laughed our way out of difficult times, secure in the knowledge that we had each other. There was always love- I never doubted it for one second.

This all came rushing back to me yesterday evening as I was giving a lesson to one of my graduate students. I like to use humor in my teaching, and I did something silly to make him laugh and to get a point across. He smiled and shook his head, and said, “You’re a mess.” Suddenly there was a little hitch in my heart, and then I smiled. There at the end of a very long day, I was transported back in time with the gift of a special memory. I could hear Mom’s giggle, the tables now turned, as she said, “The best mess.”

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