So the day that this is publishing is #BatmanDay, one of those “hashtag holidays” that celebrates a commercial property and/or material good that we’ve decided to celebrate because it’s universally-accepted norm. It is, honestly, an odd artifact of the time that I’d have one hell of a time trying to explain to myself 20 years ago.
And that is, I guess, the point of why I’m writing this. This isn’t just #BatmanDay to me, which is again an invented thing to celebrate a comic book character. (Admittedly, one I love a whole lot.)
This particular day is the 20th anniversary of my mom’s death.
I’ve written about my mom many times in the past. I’ve removed a lot of those blogs for various reasons, up to and including having a stalker-by-proxy who reminded me that spooked me out of leaving them out there. I don’t know, I might soften on that and bring them out again. The woman deserves some sort of public memorial, however I can make it.
But 20 years is one hell of a marker. When I think of how long it’s been since she died, and how much the world has changed, the more I come to realize how much she’d hate our current cultural self-immolation.
I inherited my ingrained desire to be a peacemaker from my mother. My dad was a peacemaker in the sense that if you disagreed strongly enough, thanks and go pound sand.
The idea of social media would have horrified her, especially the flash-mobs of the soulless and celebrity sycophants who rush to crush others. My mom made a genuine effort to see the humanity in everyone and speak to that part of them no matter what their differences. She cared about ideals and causes, but not at the cost of basic humanity.
I suppose that wasn’t the norm then, and I didn’t realize it at the time.
(I would be remiss not to insert here that she was also the supreme all-time champion of the politely-worded insult that could emotionally devastate you. She knew how to cut you into a million pieces with one sentence. I wish I hadn’t learned that skill, though it does come in useful at times.)
I will always think of my mom was a warm hug on a cold day. She was the quiet moment when it first started to snow.
She was also tough as nails when she needed to be, but she was like an iron fist in a velvet glove. You only found out about the iron when she needed it.
She was also an incredible counselor. There’s a weird moment in Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones that resonates with me when Dooku sighs and muses that he really misses Qui-Gon and wishes he was there to talk to him. The way Christopher Lee delivered it just felt familiar.
I know, it’s weird that moment spoke to me that way. It is what it is.
Her death, of course, devastated me. It’s left a defining scar on my heart that I wish I didn’t have, but that I also cherish because it’s a reminder that time is limited and the daily things you worry about fade in time. It’s a reminder that no matter what we do, no matter how we lock down, no matter how much we wish we could control it all, we’re going to die.
We cannot avoid it, and we can’t let ourselves be defined by it. Growing up is supposed to involve growing to accept that.
As wise people have said in the past, if we define our lives simply by how much we fear death, then we’re not really living at all. It’s going to come for us no matter what. Accept the risk and understand that sometimes you’re just going to draw the short straw.
So even though you could argue that Batman is almost as much on my mind as Star Wars, this is what I write for #BatmanDay. Because as much as I might love any intellectual property, it could never match the place in my heart occupied by my mom.
I’m also pretty confident she’s “continued voting” in elections since her death, as has my father, back in my home state. I’ve always wondered about checking that out somehow.