Went over to mother’s pad today to help her move a piece of furniture and go through a stack of old albums of my deceased stepfather’s that she thought I might be interested in bringing home. There was some cool stuff. Old oldies of “Fats” Waller and Louie Armstrong and Jimmy Durante and Earl Hines and Bing Crosby â€” even a waaaaay old platter of famed tenor Enrico Caruso.
Alas most of them were not only in pretty scratched-up shape, but they run at 78 RPMs, of which my turntable only does the 33 1/3 and 45 RPM thing so I didn’t bring any back with me. But it might be a worth it to seek out a company that specializes in digitizing old records.
The moms and I actually had a pretty good talk. She was pleased to see the newer, 20-pounds-lighter version of me and we talked about my new commitment to self-improvement and my writing and what I need to do to spur my creative dogs to hunt.
I’m getting there.
But then she was telling me about an episode of the TV show Medium that she was watching recently. She said it concerned the ghost of a dead boy who was haunting his mom. Through the show’s star, Patricia Arquette, he’s finally able to communicate with his exasperated mom who couldn’t understand why the kid who she’d spoiled rotten when he was alive was now playing Caspar the unfriendly ghost.
“I got you everything you ever wanted!” the mom cried.
“But what I never got was you,” he replied… through Arquette I guess.
My mom said that hit her pretty hard. And made her think about how tough it was a single parent to raise me and how she could see me feeling the same way as a young boy.
To some degree that’s true. As a latchkey kid growing up I never much had the luxury of mom attending my little league games or regularly taking the time to play with me. She worked hard all during the week juggling a job and raising a boy on very little money and there wasn’t much left over most of the time for anything extra-curricular. As a result I became a pretty self-sufficient little punk. I taught myself to ride a bike. Walked by myself to school the first day of first grade â€” even knew how to find my way home from one end of Beverly Hills back to its slums when my mom dropped me off for a morning at the YMCA on Little Santa Monica with neither of us knowing it was closed for the day and split to her errands before I could catch her after finding the front doors locked.
Eight years old and I didn’t waste any time crying about my predicament. Just marched myself over to Wilshire and all the way down it back to Tower Drive three blocks east of La Cienega. I knew I was heading the right way when I passed the Bud Get car place just east of Robertson… knew my way around town but didn’t know how to pronounce “budget.”
Regrets, there may be a few. But beyond them I’m very appreciative and respectful of what my mother went through and did to keep me from becoming a serial killer. Or a rightwing nut job. And whatever I felt was missed through my formative years, what I relayed back to my mom today to quell any retroguilt she might be feeling was just that: she was there for me. She clothed me and fed me and got me to the hospital when I messed myself up and disciplined me when I screwed up, and loved me and encouraged me and taught me. As best she could.
And that’s plenty enough for me.