Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day–to mine and yours

Earlier this year I wrote an essay for a class that integrated a person with a place. Both this person and this place take up most of the real estate in my heart. Happy Mothers Day to all the fabulous moms out there––especially mine.

Integration Paper
RE: My mom and the ocean
By: Rudy Shaffer
February 17, 2012
         When you meet my mom, one of the first things you might notice is her sense of humor. Maybe you would be drawn to her bright green eyes. Maybe you would be awe struck that never in her life has she dyed her shiny red hair and at the age of almost sixty there is not a single hint of grey. Maybe you would notice her style– her cool boots, her neat jewels, or her cozy sweaters. Maybe if you were to pass her in a room, you would get a small whiff of her jeannate perfume. Maybe if you had the pleasure of sitting down with her over a cup of tea you would be impressed by her resume, the way she looks you straight in the eye when you are talking and listens from the heart. And maybe, just maybe, when you meet my mom, you would think to yourself, “I want to be her best friend.” Lucky for me, I am.
            I can honestly say that we have been best friends since my birth. Growing up, unlike most parents, my mom worked from home. While not as glamorous as it sounds, being self-employed is incredibly hard work. Luckily for my mom, she has built her career around her relationships and worked her way up the ladder from a copy editor to a published author.  Along the way she has endured loss, rejection, and penny pinching with grace, dignity and strength. She has earned herself numerous awards, recognition and praise for the creativity she brings to every story.  She always has a medley of characters swirling around in her head and comes up with a slew of good ideas daily that can range anywhere from home re-model (just recently she re-modeled our downstairs) to future books (many of which are in the works). It might take you a long time to learn that she keeps a journal, loves rhododendrons and can’t start her day without an extra big mug of milky earl grey tea. Her ideal company is our yellow lab. While she might not say it out loud, she happens to think that nail polish and mascara are about as much trouble as keeping up with the weeds and her most devout practice is tuning into “Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me, on Saturday mornings. When she isn’t listening to NPR, engrossed in a New Yorker or buried in manuscript, we escape to the beach–the Oregon Coast. The Oregon Coast is my very favorite place. A few months back my mom was interviewed for a magazine about the life and thoughts of a writer. The interviewee asked, “When you die, what do you hope to be in your next life?” My mom responded, “A yellow lab on the beach, carrying a great big stick.”
The Oregon Coast is different from your typical beach. For one thing, most of the year it is cloudy–cloudy in a beautiful way –the kind of clouds that set in over the beach and the evergreens and create a pallet of silver and grey mist. At first glance, one might call it rain and cancel their trip. However, if you get a chance to know the fog, step out onto the shore and breath in the cool dew, it suddenly doesn’t seem so cold and damp. However, these clouds aren’t for everyone and so you will find only true fog fanatics out on the sand (usually accompanied by a yellow lab holding a big stick).
The ocean is a deep sea green. The kind of sea green you can’t capture in a picture or a painting, but the kind of green that you can see in my mom’s eyes in just the right light. The motion of the ocean is the kind of breakers that don’t invite you in for a swim and is so cold it rattles the spine. And still, it is too tempting not to stick your toe in the tide as it washes up onto the sand–the same kind of allure that my mom brings to the first few pages of a book. Occasionally, there can be a day when the sun peeks out through the clouds, clears the mist and warms the face. These days are few and far between, but can be found scattered throughout the year (in February or July). If you are patient, and pay close attention to small details (as my mom always does) you can sometimes find a small shell or a sand dollar (a treasure for your pocket). When a storm hits, or a deadline, chaos can churn the waters and in hours it can blow by.
It is when the sun fades behind the clouds and darkness sets in, that beach fires scatter the coastline. The warmth of the flame reminds me of all the family dinners my mom hosts at our house. The glow of the fire reminds me of the porch light that is always on (as she waits for me to get home).  The crackle and pop of the cinders reminds me of my moms laugh as she throws her head back and closes her eyes. The spark and sizzle of the embers reminds me of the twinkle in her eye that lights up when she has an idea or something to share. At the coast (and in life), we are never short of cozy blankets and good stories thanks to my mom. She will never pass up a burnt hotdog or a walk on the beach (no matter how windy, wet or cold).
            One of my mom’s favorite stories is the Owl and the Pussy Cat by Edward Lear. Lear writes, “And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, they danced in the light of the moon, the moon. They danced in the light of the moon.” If you want to become best friends with my mom, best friends like the Owl and the Pussy Cat, this is a relationship that will come with a long-term investment. She is the only person I know that has life long friends that she has kept forever (since before kindergarten). Every Thursday she writes to someone she has lost track of or hasn’t heard from. These folks can range from her grade school classmates to old neighbors to lost family friends. If you want to become friends with my mom, maybe she will invite you over for a cup of tea. Or maybe, if you find yourself at the beach and are really lucky, you can spot her in the fog, strolling along on the sand. 

This cup is for my mom (my best friend) 
And for all the other fabulous moms I know–you inspire me everyday


  1. What an amazing ode to your mom! Your writing gets under my skin, and makes me glad I've met your mother. Someday we will come for that cup of tea.

  2. Jamie! Thanks so much for checking in! And BTW, your sketchbook was the bomb! I loved it!