My Mother’s Ghost

My mother died on November 3rd, 1997, exactly twenty years ago. At least, that’s when she stopped breathing. I swear she is still with me, and, to my delight, the four letter word that idea brings to mind is “love.”

As I’ve shared in my blog since the beginning of September, the stand-up comedy course I took became a primary focus for several weeks. The final product, recorded on October 12, looks deceptively easy.

After the showcase was over, I took a break to restore my adrenalin and perspective.

The experience has given me a new respect for the genre and a fair dose of humility. Here’s a comedian’s commencement address that I am sure the graduates will remember:

Tim Minchin: These 9 Life Lessons will Make you Laugh – and Learn

This male Australian, only a little over half my age, shares many ideas that have been relatively recent “ahas” for me. Did he read my thoughts across the ocean? I doubt it. I think he’s tapping into wisdom everyone who opens their mind and heart can access. Writing stand-up comedy impels me to open mine.

My mother and I had several battles about my entering public speaking contests. Early on, I won a couple of little engraved trophies and endured the teasing for being a show-off that ensued at school. I adamantly refused to keep entering. Fitting in with the other kids was more important than winning another knick-knack that would tarnish and attract dust, in my mind. Mom was sure I would go to hell for squandering my talent.

An earlier version of my stand-up piece had me meeting her in heaven and watching with amusement as she reeled from the shock that I’d made it there.

While imagining our reunion, I saw the irony in the fact her coaching in how to deliver a speech was helping me in my new hobby. And the ways she brought laughter to her community were inspiring me to entertain, as well. I developed a level of compassion and appreciation for her that eluded me while she was alive. That processing led me to acknowledge her contributions playfully in the final version.

Contrary to what I said in the sketch, I hope she was there for the whole thing.


One thought on “My Mother’s Ghost

  1. Rosalene Sallmen

    I suspect mom might still pretend to be shocked by some of the things you said, but underneath she’s getting a big kick out of your kibitzing.


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