Potentially there’s all sorts of things wrong with this post, starting with its abrupt appearance after two years’ unexplained silence here, and ending of course with the title, “My Favorite Son”. Seriously! What kind of mother has favorites? *
Elinor of Aquitaine, maybe. Or maybe not, depending on the historian. I accidentally painted Elinor when my favorite son Ezra was a baby. Actually I was trying to paint a serene and musing Mary, but a friend dropped by as the painting was drying and decided it looked more regal and Medieval than serene, proclaiming it instead a wonderful likeness of Queen Elinor. We can decide these things, after all. Being women. Endowed with imagination, insight, and a knack for grand pronouncements.
Aside: Recently my husband Frank and I are absorbed by genealogy; it is interesting to note that my good husband, and therefore my favorite son, are direct descendants of the intrepid Elinor of Aquitaine. Through her least favorite son Prince John’s line though, and not his privileged and preferred brother Richard the Lion Hearted. So really, Ezra, as my Favorite Son, and also as a totally believable stand-in for Captain America, offers vindication, through his favored-ness and winning, beautiful smile, to John the Overlooked at long last. Proof that things have a way of working themselves out eventually.
In defense of my mothering, I do only have one son. I am not slighting any others; I truly would have loved to have more, they just didn’t show up (as a matter of fact, I dreamt only last night that I had another baby boy, who I happily named Henry). All four of my daughters are my beloved darlings, each long-fingered princess favored and loved and longed for as much as if she were my only. So it’s morally, ethically, and hopefully in all other ways ok that my only son is my favorite son. It is one of our favorite jokes, Ez and I. He likes to use his favorite son status as leverage in friendly disputes and petitions for ridiculousness (epic parties, stray kittens, gold fish).
A month and a couple weeks ago, Ez left home for the wide world in a well tailored grey suit, sporting a Captain America haircut, a couple of well packed suitcases in tow (in lieu of the fairy tale knapsack). He chose, completely on his own–after some introspection, a bit of private dithering, and a last long ride in his little, red (scratched and barely running) 1991 Miata convertible–to serve a two year mission for our church. ** He prepared to proselyte with thousands of other prospective missionaries at the Missionary Training Center in Provo. His assigned companion at the MTC was from California, where last summer Ez and his best friend Orson took a week long road trip in the beloved Miata and brought home sunburns, half a bag of melted sour gummi worms, and delirious, windblown pictures of themselves almost dying on monster rollercoasters.
After three euphoric weeks at the MTC, Ez set out from Provo to his mission in Colorado. He didn’t get to choose where he’d go; he had quietly hoped (in his signature, below radar way) for a foreign destination and the chance to learn a new language and a new culture—France especially, where Elinor would have frolicked long ago in her beloved Aquitaine. But these missions are assigned, a surprise to the missionary and his family and friends when he receives his call. And Colorado and its mile high mountains are Ezra’s Place. He accepted the Colorado assignment weeks before he left for Provo. Meanwhile, we have all, those of us left behind a state away, and the Favorite Son who has Embarked, promised to write each other faithfully. To pray for each other and hope for each other and be courageous and kind in our designated spots.
We cannot see him though for the whole two years, nor can we call him. This is all part and parcel of the agreement, acceptance of a mission. He will call us on Christmas and Mother’s Day. We’ve already sent him two “care packages”; one, a box of treats—goldfish, gummi things, love notes, and a sinus rinse (he had sinus surgery earlier this spring); the other, allergy drops packed in dry ice, which lost its way in the mail (one state! next day mail! and USPS loses it for 3 days!). And countless emails. I love his letters. They’ve shifted from euphoric at the MTC to brave and earnest in Colorado. It is a strange, sweet, slightly sad separation. I startle sometimes at his absence, a bit like a newborn baby suddenly unwrapped—where’s my boy? Oh, right. He’s in Colorado. But I’m so proud of him. He’s growing up.
As for my longer than two years’ silence here on this blog… I don’t have words to explain it. Certainly not in a post about my favorite son; the words pale in comparison, taste sadly trite. I’m sure stories from those lost two-three years will eke out as I go…still, I should reassure all of us now. I didn’t die, but there was mourning. There was also celebrating… and no doubt more of all of that still lies ahead (even in the weeks immediately behind me there were two more weddings and yet another funeral, the third one in two years I think). I didn’t lose my mind but I did give away my goats. Also I dyed my hair red, which to some may look suspiciously like losing my mind. I didn’t break records or headlines but I did climb short trails at the feet of tall mountains, and I made a wedding cake that didn’t topple over when the bride and groom cut it. Something that The New York Times or at least National Geographic should have taken note of. And while no one literally blew my house down, I did (as in the famous wolf and pig story) build another house, with sticks and without bricks (to the chagrin of one or two or seven new neighbors, bless their hearts). With Frank. Frank is still my man, a man worth mentioning. Often, as in frequently—not orphan, as in someone who has lost both parents.
I didn’t paint anything though. That is ahead of me–my next Elinor. And so are a multitude of things to say and write about. I surely am glad to be back.
*My question, “What kind of mother has favorites?” is both rhetorical and ironic; I don’t believe in “kinds”. There is no such thing. If there were…life would be nothing but sad and cruel. Just sayin’.
** If you’re reading this, you probably already know me and my religious affiliation. Hello, Dearly Beloveds! but if you don’t: Ez (“Elder Brand”) is serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. That is a long title for a church. I like that… The meaning in all the words, the capitalization of most of them, the length and the strangeness of the lengthiness. Already happy to be peculiar in many other ways, I embrace this particular peculiarity, take my place among my peculiar people.