These are lazy, hazy days. Literally. I find it difficult to do anything quickly. So when John asked me yesterday what I wanted for my birthday, I settled on hours alone in my house. He took the boys swimming in Cleveland, and I had six quietly blissful hours alone with my slow thoughts and sleeping dogs.
I did a little online shopping, indulging myself for the day with a new dress. I got opinions from my sisters and mother, who I would have liked to have brunched with, drinking Bloody Mary Dirty martinis. Okay, I might have been the only one drinking, but it would have been fun. My sisters and mother make me laugh. I remembered on my birthday how much I like to laugh. I want to laugh more. Anyway, they unanimously picked the punchy Boden number, while I clinged to the idea of the gauzy-white Gap sundress. So I got them both! We’ll see which one works, if any. Sticky-still Ohio summers scream for breeze; the right dress can do the trick.
Jonah and I finished Return of the Jedi while John attended a morning meeting, Jonah fetching G from outside whenever Darth Vader, light sabers, or the Emperor appeared. We danced with the Republic (and especially the Ewoks) after the Death Star, Vader, and the “electricity guy” (the Dark Lord Sidious with lightening flashing from his fingers) were all dramatically defeated.
The trash guys came and went. We saw it all. I made things—flourless chocolate cupcakes, collages, delinquent birthday/Father’s day cards—all while watching a BBC adaption of Edith Wharton’s The Buccaneers. My sister (in-law) Beth sent me a gauzy grey scarf I wore the whole while until the dogs and I took a hot walk. Just as I was sitting down to soak my feet in G’s kiddie pool (aka, water cannon reloading station), a book and almost a beer in hand, the Forester pulled up with three very tired boys. Alas, the second novella in Jane Smiley’s Ordinary Love and Good Will remains unbegun.
But first thing yesterday, I received texts from my mother (1:11 a.m.) and friend Caro remembering my day. My sisters both and my father later in the day. I saved his message for when I laid down to sleep. He always sings to me, to us. He has a rich baritone-bass I love to hear. I hear his voice in my voice sometimes when I sing. In the afternoon my mom face phoned (as the boys like to call it), and my friend Kevin called after his airport shift in Colorado.
The Orthodox Church I attend has a lovely custom of remembering those “celebrating another year” in their liturgical prayers and even sings them a “Many Years” at the conclusion of the service. Somehow, my name was left off last week, and my feeling of being forgotten was strong enough that I wrote a quick email to the parishioner in charge of supplying the priest with the list. I hesitated because I felt like a little kid shouting, “What about me? What about me?!” In the end I hit Send because I need those prayers. In itself, being remembered is like a prayer. Is a prayer.
Abraham Lincoln famously said, among other things, “I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” I can say the same about my own mother. It’s a running joke between John and me—if your need is desperate, ask Debbe to pray for you. She’ll take that request to her Bible study, and you can expect results. Really. Every time.
Of course, it’s not an economics equation: Jennifer’s need + Debbe’s prayers = Jennifer gets what she wants. Though let’s be honest—mothers are generally known for their sacrificial love, and mine sometimes gives until she breaks. It’s the love in my mother’s prayers, that deep remembering she carries within her, for me. Like I carry for Jonah and Gabriel. In the same way that remembering is prayer, prayer is love, because all good is love.
In the Liturgy, we call to remembrance “our all-holy, immaculate, most blessed and glorious Lady Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary, with all the Saints,” Jesus’ mother being the paramount embodiment of mother-love. The sacrament of communion itself is the consumption of love: “This is my body which is broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” The word consumption breaks down here. It’s implication assumes that the thing being consumed is used up. Remembering involves transformation, as short-lived or two-steps-forward-one-step-back as it may be.
Which of course brings us to Horace: “Remember when life’s path is steep to keep your mind even.” Thank you Celexa, for that.