Goodbye to My 'Everybody's-Mom' Mom
One of our beloved Mom's final wishes was that she be cremated, with a specific guideline for the six of us regarding her ashes.
“All I ask,'' she wrote to us with a literary wink, "is just don’t smoke them.''
Our mom, Margaret Mary Lawrence Fisher, wasn’t just a mother of seven, grandmother to 11 and great-grandmother to a growing collection of preciousness; she was, and always has been, Everybody's Mom.
Some people collect stamps, or baseball cards. My Mom collected kids.
If any one of the six of us had a friend, that friend became "her child,'' loved and protected and defended - oh, defended! - as if she'd devoted nine painful months to delivering them onto the planet. Every stray or random or vagrant school chum or neighborhood kid, every girlfriend or boyfriend of her offspring, every ex-girlfriend or boyfriend of her offspring - which created some drama - was welcome in her arms, in her home, in her heart.
"Defender''? Oh, yes. She warmly lectured all six of us that we could become President of the United States, but also that if we became plumbers, we would simply be the finest Plumbers in the United States.
What stood in the way of her kids' successes? A mean teacher, a misanthropic boss, a biased coach. (Of course, she was the "biased'' one. But God, we loved it!)
My sister's best friend - one of the army of Meg's kids - will tell you, "I'd come to her with a problem and by the time she was done with me, she'd make me feel that it was all somebody else's fault.''
All of the Fisher boys were athletes (except me, limited as I was to try-hardness) but Mom took it beyond that. Like millions of Little League moms, she was present with the orange slices. But this was next-level: She was blind to limitations, ignorant of obstacles and a Confirmer of Dreams.
One of my younger brothers, Rick, was an outstanding high-school baseball player, a college prospect. But his position for the Gojo's Legion A team that would win state was third base - a change from his young lifetime status as the shortstop.
"Why don't they let Rick play shortstop?'' my Mom complained to me after a three-hour round-trip drive to watch a game because she never missed one, not once, not for all "her kids.''
"Well, Ma,'' I explained, (I hope) patiently, "Rick's at third because the guy at shortstop is so good he just got drafted by the Cincinnati Reds.''
"Mike,'' she replied tartly, leaning on my imagined power as a sportswriter, "maybe you ought to do the Cincinnati Reds a favor and tell them they've drafted the wrong shortstop.''
She wasn't a "pushy mom'' or a "stage mom''; she was simply a selflessly ever-present mom. Example? I didn't drive a car until I was 18. But I started dating at 13, started working at 14 and started college at 16.
Yes, I was a dork, but that's not the point; Guess who drove me on those dates, drove me to those job, drove me to those college classes?
In the early '70's, she told me not to worry about getting drafted to serve in Viet Nam, that she'd grab me and high-tail it to Canada before she let that happen. ... Then we both calmed down and agreed that given that I was 12, it probably wasn't much of a concern.
She flexed the same protective muscle with all six of us on the subject of murder - yes, murder! She repeatedly made it clear that if one of us were ever accused of murder, she'd gladly take the rap while her poor put-upon child escaped to (again) Canada.
Margaret. Marg. Meg. Mom. Ma. Nana. Her legacy is that she taught us (and probably all of those other neighborhood strays) how to parent.
When my boys were young, I'd sing them a made-up lullaby called, "You're Handsome, Smart and Nice.'' It was my creation but it was her inspiration, typical of Mom's usual injection into every single little thing I've ever did, Mom's contribution to every single little thing hundreds and maybe thousands of "her kids'' do every day.
We share her with you now in the same spirit she shared herself - mind and body and soul - for 80 years. Today, her final day, think a nice thought for Margaret Mary Lawrence Fisher ... because good thoughts are all our “Everybody’s -Mom” Mom ever had for me and for you and for all of "her kids.''