As I write this, it is late in the day. It is, however, still legal, as it is still May 14. I have spent the better part of the day with my aunt, doing things we will never forget. It's always good to aim for that kind of a day, and rarely attainable. But, today we did.
We sang my late mother Stolat, which is the Polish birthday song. It, in my mind, supersedes our American version. The words translate to: A hundred years, a hundred years, may you live a hundred years.
It's decidedly optimistic. Not just happy, but hopeful, too.
But again, the picture above is of one of the finest people ever to walk through this temporary world: Judith Ann Johnson.
She loved birthdays.
And she loved the guy in the picture next to her. That, of course, would be me, F. Alex Johnson.
I love birthdays too.
And one thing about two people who love birthdays is that they know how to do it up right.
Three years ago, I treated my mother to something she had only read about: a pedicure.
We have big, thick, meaty Polish farmer-feet, kind of like a couple of Christmas hams. And in May of 2005, I thought my mother would enjoy something I had done a couple of times.
I mean, you gotta take care of yourself. This includes your face, hands, and feet, as well as your brain and heart.
May 14, 2005.
She showed up on time as usual. I found out one day that she and my aunt would often times arrive early and then wait downtown so as to not show up early and freak me out.
I freak out easily.
So, we took the trip downtown and found a spot. We made our way to the salon and checked in with the receptionist. My mother was gushing, even before we had sat down in the big salon chairs, to the receptionist, that her boy was treating his mother to something very special.
She was so happy, it made the whole room brighter. That's no easy feat in a room full of fluorescents.
We were shown to the salon chairs at the back of the room. They were not only comfortable ...
... they were massage chairs.
If there's one thing that's more fun to watch than my mother in a comfortable chair, is to watch her face as the chair vibrates and pulses on her back. She reserved a special laugh for times like these, a bit of a giggle almost as if she was just shown a semi-dirty picture.
She was shown how to work the controls, and then carefully decided which part of her back would be the next to receive the treatment and with what strength.
And this was all while her feet were soaking--the very first step.
She continued to brag to the salon girls, who were working on us, about how her boy was in a big-time local band called, Drunk Stuntmen. When they said they didn't know who we were, she asked them if they were from out of town.
She was something else, I'll tell ya'.
Here we are with my girl applying a coat of polish to a nice Polish ham.
My mom is taking the photo. I could have asked the girl who was taking care of her to do it, but she was busy ...
Look at that woman. She can't believe what's happening. I mean, pampering takes on a whole new meaning here. We're not just talking about a new hair-do, that's routine. This is something that is frivolous. This is something that is lavish. This is something that is absolutely, without question, beyond a doubt ...
... best shown off in a pair of free, disposable flip flops.
Like two peas in a pod, or two hams on a platter.
She talked about this experience a lot over the next couple of years. She was always impressed at the ingenious way I had managed to treat her to something she had always wanted to do, but would have never, in a million years, paid to have done. I knew she was worth it. I knew she would love it. And I knew that it would be the best present she got that day.
But that part was easy. It went without saying that anything I gave her would have been her favorite.
Because she loved me more than anything in the world, and I know she still does.
So mom, I'm sorry to keep you up so late, but I want to let you know that I'm thinking of you. In fact, I kind of never stop.
Stolat, my dear.
I love you.