Next month, it will be ten years since my mother died. More times than I can count, in those ten years, I’ve wanted to tell her about something only to realize that, even if I could, she wouldn’t understand — she’s been gone long enough, now, that the world is a different place, full of things she never saw. Instead, I’d have to catch her up a little, first. So with that in mind — Mom, this is a bit of what you missed in the past decade.
So, we’ve got a lot of Internet stuff we didn’t have when you were here. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. And then gadgets like the iPhone. The iPad. iEverything. I can’t imagine you’d have cared about most of that. But the Kindle — you’d have liked the Kindle. I can just see you sitting there in the green chair, reading (squinting through bifocals, sure, but still). That would’ve made an awesome Christmas present for you.
You missed a really exciting election, which is a shame because you died the morning after a really disappointing one. (Election night, 2004, my mother went to bed disgruntled, saying, “Wake me up if Kerry somehow wins, but for God’s sake let me sleep if it’s just Bush again”. The next morning that she passed away. I know you were pissed off, Mom, but that was a little extreme, don’t you think?) Anyhow, you would have been happier with the outcome in 2008. Sorry you missed that.
Speaking of changing the guard, you missed an entire pope. It was something. JP2 died, and then there was this guy who looked like the Emporer from Return of the Jedi, not that you would have known that, not being a Star Wars fan yourself. Get this, though: a few years later, he stepped down. I know, right?! They aren’t supposed to be able to do that! Crazy. You’d like the new guy though. He seems nice.
You missed the end of “The West Wing”. It was really great. Leo died of a heart attack the year after you did — not the character Leo, I mean John Spencer. Kinda sucked. As you would know. I missed watching it with you. (That and “Lost” — we saw the premiere and the first few episodes together. I loved it. Six seasons. But I still can’t really explain what the smoke monster was, though.) Anyhow, a lot of other people died since you did. Obviously. People we knew, even. Also the usual “In Memoriam” roll of celebrities each year. Michael Jackson, which was sad but strangely predictable. Robin Williams, just last month, which wasn’t. It was awful, actually. Well, maybe the afterlife just got a lot more entertaining, at least.
Your John Elway, Mom, he’s back with the Broncos — he’s their General Manager now. You would have loved that. Though at least you were spared watching another team of yours losing the Super Bowl.
I really wish you’d been here with me, watching marriage equality struggle to be born. You’d have been proud to see it happen. You were so great that way — you got smarter and more enlightened and more open-minded the older you got. I loved the talks we had, and watching you think about things, letting your opinions evolve over time. You have no idea how rare that is. Most people get smaller. You got bigger. It reminds me of your favorite mini-series, “The Forsyte Saga”, when Old Jolyon dies and his son says:
“Some people retreat as they get older. Not Dad. He grew better with age. His horizons broadened, he became more flexible. More compassionate. He accepted that different people might want to live their lives in different ways. He was a man of honesty, bravery, conviction. Never afraid to apologize. Never afraid to love.”
That was you, too. So I can only imagine how much more awesome you would have become, by now.
As for me? Well, a lot of things changed. My name, my address, my life. But all those changes aren’t really what I think about, when I remember how long it’s been. Truthfully, the world became a different place for me the moment you weren’t in it, and all I’ve missed in the past ten years is you.