Thanks, Mom!

Today is Mother’s Day.  The states and Congress have formally recognized Mother’s Day for about 100 years, but people have been celebrating their mothers for a lot longer than that.  Today I wanted to say “thanks” to my mother, Agnes Neal Webner.

Mom in her 2010 Crazy Cap Cruise outfit

Thanks, Mom, for carrying me around for nine months!  Thanks for my name, which I’ve always liked.  Thanks for changing my diapers and for putting up with me when I was a squalling infant, and thanks for not slugging me when I was going through the “terrible twos” or being a jerky, insolent teenager.  Thanks for being understanding when I wet the bed.  Thanks for making me behave, but not coming down too hard on me when I broke my glasses for the thousandth time or goofed off instead of doing my chores.  Thanks for buying the kinds of breakfast cereal I really liked, and for letting me flip the pancakes on Sunday mornings, and for giving me that great bowling birthday party with my friends when I turned 10.

Thanks for being patient as I went through the dreadful teenage years.  Thanks for not laughing at my haircuts or my sad efforts to look cool or the weird outfit I wore for my high school senior picture in 1975.  Thanks for being nice to my friends.  Thanks for not worrying too much about me and letting me find my own way.  I always knew you were there, ready to help, if I needed you.
Thanks for my brother and sisters, and thanks for giving me individual attention and support even though I was one of five children who vied for your attention.  Thanks for cleaning my ridiculously dirty college apartment and for deciding, with Dad, to pay for my college and law school tuition.  Thanks for being so welcoming to Kish and to the other people who have joined our family.  Thanks for taking care of Richard when Russell was born, and for inviting the boys to come down and stay with you and Dad in your Florida condo.  They really enjoyed those trips.  And thanks for teaching me sayings that I still use, like “rise and shine” and “use a little elbow grease.”
Thanks for your generosity, and your sacrifices, and you unflinching love and support.  Thanks giving me my dimples and helping to shape my outlook about things.  Thanks for all that, and for so much more that you have done for me over the past 54 years.
Thanks, Mom!
Love, Bob
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The End: Jim Morrison’s Grave

On the day we visited the Pompidou Center, Richard and I decided to go a bit off the beaten path, so we walked over to the cemetery where Jim Morrison is buried.  It was a sad experience.

Jim Morrison's grave

Morrison’s grave is found in the Cimietiere du Pere Lachaise, where some other notables, like Oscar Wilde and Marcel Proust, also are buried.  It is a nice cemetery — apparently Paris’ most prestigious — that is filled with above-ground graves and family crypts.  Morrison’s grave is located in the interior of the cemetery, wedged between other burial sites.  It was not hard to find, because 99 percent of the people visiting the cemetery seemed to be there to see the last resting place of the Doors’ lead singer.  We just had to follow the crowd.

When Richard and I reached the gravesite, we found a group of loudly talking, laughing people jostling to get their pictures taken with the simple headstone in the background.  A cheap fence had been tied around the gravesite, presumably to keep most people people from chipping off pieces of the marker or otherwise disturbing the area.  As it was, people had placed flowers on Morrison’s grave and also had tossed in cigarettes, what looked like a white plastic bottle of some kinds of pills, and other debris.  The tree next to the site is covered with graffiti left by visitors, and the ground has been denuded of grass and packed hard by the feet of many, many visitors.

The tree next to the Morrison gravesite

I thought the visit to Morrison’s grave was depressing.  It struck me as a sad, not particularly pretty or peaceful resting place.  I felt sorry for Morrison that so many people remember (and apparently celebrate) him for his excesses, and I felt sorry for the families of people whose graves are next to Morrison’s and who therefore have to constantly deal with disrespectful, crass visitors who forget they are in a cemetery.

The inscription beneath Morrison’s name on the headstone is in Greek.  There seems to be some disagreement about precisely how it should be translated, but Wikipedia says its literal meaning is “according to his own demon.”  When Richard and I left the cemetery, we passed a storefront that was selling t-shirts that showed Morrison’s picture and said he was “wanted in Dade County, Florida.”