I’m apparently nothing like you. I’m pretty sure all I got from you are your tiny, delicate wrists that look fine with the rest of your svelte frame, but somehow seem out of place on my less-than-petite body. Like someone ran out of materials just at my wrists and said, hell, this is all we’ve got! Give her tiny ones!
But I love them. Because they’re your wrists — something I inherited from you (well, and ‘cause what guy doesn’t want a lady with some streamlined wrists, huh??).
I don’t think I got much else from you naturally. Not that aforementioned petite frame. Or the way you finish projects that you start. Or your taste for salted butter (gross, mom).
But damn if you didn’t pour yourself into me. I guess that’s the nature of being a single parent — and I’ll say it for the thousandth time — I’m so glad you are one. I know that I can’t imagine the work or sacrifice you put into being a single mom, but had you and my lovely father stayed married, I don’t know that I would have ever gotten so close to you.
Because we both know I’m kinda his kid by birth. Not only are we fairly identical physically, which is what every 21 year old girl wants to hear — you look just like your father — but we share a lonely, insightful, sarcastic world view that has shaped us into somewhat similar beings. And I’m grateful for that.
But thank god for you. Oh my word, I should bow and scrape at your feet ’til the end of time for what you gave me, but I know the greatest service would be to pass it on. You gave me wisdom. Something, that for all the smarts he hoards — and he has well more than his fair share — he doesn’t have an ounce of.
You gave me compassion. You taught me kindness. What it’s like to just love and love and love someone in spite of, and because of all the crap they bring to the table.
And how to help people. Oh my goodness, have you inculcated that. No one knows like you how to help people help themselves. This is why all of my friends want to know what you would do in a break up or when the landlord threatens them or when you’re going into a job interview. They know you’ll know, and they know you will help them. And now they ask me things, and I’ve learned it all from you. Most of my advice begins with, “I was talking to my mom, and she said…”
And you gave me the biggest gift of all: happiness.
It’s pretty easy to luxuriate in sarcasm and let intellect or condescension keep people at bay, but you never let that be acceptable. You pushed us to not just “know” but to live the credo that no one can make you happy, that happiness is a personal choice. I can’t thank you enough.
Because I know I got his delight in solitude, and I got his weirdly twisted mind, but you taught me how to be happy. Alone. With someone. With anyone. Because happiness is my choice and my responsibility. Thank you for that.
I remember being about 8 years old and watching You’ve Got Mail and seeing you cry at the end. I also very distinctly remember asking you why you were doing that. I couldn’t understand how a happy moment would make a person cry. But now I’m all grown up (no, I’m not) and I tear up every time I watch it. Maybe you taught me that, but maybe, you just taught me to care. About people. About love. About Meg Ryan films.