From the Braver Institute
It came to my attention that I have written quite a lot about my dad but relatively little about my mom. Sure, I have mentioned Ma Braver now and then, but I don’t think anything I have written has ever painted an accurate picture of her.
Those of you who have been long time readers of this column might get the impression that my dad and I were really close. Sure, we were close, but there was always a father-son friction that probably exists with most males of the species.
My dad and I did a lot things together, but mom was mom.
I know a lot of people think that they have the greatest mother in the world, but you have got to believe me when I say that it is my siblings and I who won the mom lottery. Not a one of us deserves this saint of a woman.
Through our teenage years each one of us was rotten to the core in our own way, but in spite of that Ma Braver never gave up on any of us and she never let our behavior get in the way of loving us.
I can only recall two times in my life where my mother grew angry and had to resort to nearviolence to vent that anger. The first time was when she chased me from the kitchen, down the hall to my bedroom, flailing at me with the wooden spoon that happened to be in her hand at the moment. Thankfully it wasn’t a hatchet because I am sure that she would have chopped through the door to get at me. I am also sure that I deserved whatever lumps I would have taken from that spoon had she been able to catch me. I was a lot of trouble at that age.
The other time was many years later when she threw a handful of pills at the wall when my dad wouldn’t take the medication that he needed because he insisted that he had already taken it even though it was clearly still in her hand. The frustration of caring for him in his declining state had finally caused her to snap. While others would have been looking for something to strangle him with, Ma Braver resorted to throwing the pills at the wall, and that was the end of it.
I am sure that if the subject ever came up she would claim that she isn’t all that great of a person, but I tell you that this woman has not one vice. She has never smoked. I think she tried wine once in her life. Drugs are completely out of the question. As far as I can tell, the worst thing she has ever done in her entire life was to call one of her classmates “Scab Sandwich” when she was a kid.
When I was a little kid mom was just a regular mom. From what I knew at the time all moms were the same. It wasn’t until I grew older that was able to see what kind of person my mother was and the impact that she had and continues to have on the people around her
Ma Braver is no June Cleaver or Carol Brady. These TV moms are much too stereotypical. They are idealized. In real life you would suspect these women to be made of plastic. Ma Braver is the real deal. She is as genuine as the day is long.
My mother is the person that good mothers look to for advice.
My mother is the kind of person that you could trust with your most cherished possessions and they would be returned to you in the same condition, unless your most cherished possessions were clothes. In that case they would be returned to you completely laundered and folded.
If you asked her to hang on to some money for you, you would get every cent back when you wanted it. She would not have spent a penny of it even if she were starving and needed something to eat. This sounds like an exaggeration, but I am not joking. The sterling integrity of this woman is unparalleled.
My mother would bail you— even if you were a complete stranger—out of jail if only you asked, so long as she believed that being out of jail would be better for you, and the rest of the world, to think about that which you have done.
My mother is tolerant and accepting even of those who may not tolerate or accept her. She has never been a person to force her opinions on anyone. As I have grown older I find that her evenhandedness is the trait I try to emulate most.
My mother is the kind of woman who ends up being the second mother to other people. The impact she has on the lives of those around her cannot be measured.
I have not written a lot about my mother mostly because there aren’t a lot of crazy stories to tell. Going forward I will try to think of some.
For now all I can say is that I hope you have a very happy Mother’s Day, mom. I think I speak for all of your kids and perhaps all of the people whose lives you have touched when I say that we love you more than you will ever know.
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Waye Braver can be contacted on Facebook or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.