Today on her 88th birthday my precious mother has happy memories beyond counting, but few so fond or fun as Sophomore year of high school, 1944, when she was a star cheerleader for P.S.DuPont in Wilmington, Delaware! Thank God for our photographs, however faded. Of her vast collection there is hardly one that makes her beam like that one.
And of the many fading photos in my own collection there is hardly one that makes me prouder than the one snapped by my little boy, Van, on a trip to the most popular spot on the planet at this time of year, Rockefeller Center, N.Y.C. Trusty little disposable in his hand, only steps away from the world’s most famous Christmas tree, the boy became more fascinated with this and managed to capture this incredible image of power, a 15 foot bronze Atlas holding the globe before one of the world’s greatest cathedrals.
Little did that little boy realize what a meditation he was making and how the symbol of REAL POWER was somewhere hiding round the heart of it – in a tiny cross, the Power of Love.
In 1965 i began to build a mighty Rock n Roll record collection. At first it was a simple matter of finding 20 CocaCola bottles for their 2 cent deposits. Later on, shoveling, raking leaves, and mowing got me my 33’s. But, one of my very first purchases was Mick Jagger’s “That’s How Strong My Love Is, Baby.” And, baby! would that song go far…to tell the story of our lives. Little did that little boy realize what a lesson on True Power was in that simple song. Even littler did i realize that there would be none in my life, nor in the lives of those around me, who would give a clearer, purer example of it than those ladies running around us day and night, our MOTHERS!! They are the ones who took their directions from the ONE WHO AGREED to go POWER-LESS for LOVE. “That’s how strong my love is” – that’s how strong anyone really is, according to that gauge – no other.
At P.S. DuPont they called my mother “Midget,” or just “Midge,” as she was so tiny. But so is a stick of DYNAMITE! i proudly offer this photo of myself (and dear nephew, Ryan) with her, to let you see – that if i am a grand 5’4″, imagine the stature of this SUPERWOMAN!!!
Since there was no money to be made in her funnest, fondest profession, she also mastered shorthand and stenography, but when i look back over her 88 years, i see that it was MIDGE THE DYNAMITE CHEERLEADER who always stood out. After only a couple secretarial years, she quickly moved into the mode of MOTHER, creating us just about every two years, and so she offered that POWER OF LOVE in the cheering on of 8 children…and their children and their children’s children. If LOVE be the gauge of true strength, then here was a pint-sized Atlas. “That’s How Strong” my MOM is, as mighty as LOVE ITSELF! So did she cheer-lead each and every one, rooting for us in every victory and every defeat, no matter how trivial or how profound, always letting us know the one important thing – YOU ARE LOVED. She lived never for herself, only for the team.
Leave it to my mom, as i shared this tribute with her, to have me “not dare forget” so many other supermoms i had (she says they were each other’s power-sources.) She didn’t need to remind me of Millie Peltz or Doris Iorii, of Mary Kok or Betty Malone, of Ann Eckrich, Anne Masci, Joann Thomson or Catherine Schneider – to name just a few. These troops would never stop arriving by my side, mothers unlimited – like Guardian Angels wherever i went in life! None quite as tiny as my little momma, mind you, but all sharing the Super Strength of the Muscle that really matters, the Heart. “That’s how strong my love is, baby;” as Strong as Love is, that’s as Strong as we are, no more.
So, you had it your way, Mom, a CHEERLEADER THROUGH AND THROUGH! And as Dad – and that OTHER RALPH KRAMDEN guy – would say, “Baby, you’re the Greatest!”
Happy 88th…and here’s to many more…Rah Rah Rah Sis Boom Bah!!!