Sources of Joy: Happy Mother’s Day, Mothers!

I’ve written multiple times in this space that I am a fortunate man.

Today I felt that good fortune as I listened with Dunreith to the Grateful Dead as we made a safe journey through occasionally driving rain from dear friends Glenn and Michele Phillips’ house in Memphis to New Orleans.

I felt it as we picked up Aidan, who finished his first year exams at Tulane strong, earning extra credit for memorizing and reciting the first chapter of the Nichomachean Ethics.

I felt it, too, as we started to make the return trip home to Evanston, arriving safely in the early evening in Batesville, Mississippi.

Tomorrow, my good fortune will be to celebrate Mother’s Day with the mothers who have been important in my life.

I’m talking Dunreith, of course.

Without her, I would not be a father.

With her, I have had the great privilege to be involved in one of life’s most meaningful and (to me) important tasks: raising, living with, and learning from Aidan.

By all accounts, Dunreith has had an innate maternal instinct from her earliest years-she reports how she thought her mother had her younger brother Josh when she was 9 years old so that she’d have a real live doll to play with and care for-and it’s only deepened during the past 19 years as Aidan’s mom.

Simply put, she’s outstanding, blending unconditional love and acceptance with straight talk, encouragement with space, listening with counsel.

All of her interactions are drenched in the kind of love that comes from literally have carried and borne Aidan into the world.

I’m thrilled that we’ll have the day together as we drive the remaining 600 miles from Batesville to home.

My mother Alice Lowenstein is another source of great fortune and joy in my life.

Mom continues to teach, to nurture and to inspire me as she moves toward her 75th birthday. She’s had more than her share of physical struggles, from allergies to a devastating car accident to, in 2010, heart problems that resulted in her having a pacemaker inserted followed by a hip replacement.

In the past 16 months she’s worked hard to regain her strength, mobility and independence.

It’s not been easy.

Yet, far from begrudging the task in front of her. she’s come to a place of greater and greater happiness at being alive.

And speaking of being alive, tomorrow I’ll also think about the mothers who are no longer alive in body, yet whose spirits and gifts I will remember.

This mean Helen Kelly, my beloved late mother-in-law, who died last September. She was endlessly giving to her children, grandchildren, and, fortunately for me, her son-in-law.

Aidan once called Helen “the perfect grandmother.”

She was no worse as a mother.

The freshness of Helen’s passing will give a certain hue of sadness to the day, even as I’ll feel grateful to have had the years and memories with her that I and we did.

My stepmother Diane Lowenstein’s death is less recent-she passed in early July 2010-and I also will think about how she gave to me directly, and to our family indirectly through her loving relationship with Dad.

In the nearly quarter century they were together, Dad became a happier, more open,  and more emotionally available father.  Diane helped bring out that growth in him.  She was also enormously welcoming to, and generous toward, Dunreith and Aidan.

I hope that all of you celebrate the mothers in your lives past and present.

They deserve our celebration, our gratitude, our appreciation and our love.

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