Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

Welcome to ADHD

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     Thor’s two kids are right at home between bookends Jean and Jo

Really, Blackie, comments Screen One, it was not as bad as you thought.

“You don’t think so?” I ask. “It’s absolutely terrible for a kid to have his birthday show up right on top of Christmas.”

True enough, affirms Two. It is even harder to share a birthday with a twin.

“Right,” I confirm. “Growing up, Dianne and I sometimes got a single gift marked, ‘For the twins – Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday.’ That’s just one combined present instead of four separate surprises!”

Brutal, moans Three.

“So, One, what makes you think it wasn’t tough?”

Look at your mom’s circumstances. Her birthday is right up against Mother’s Day. Every so often, the two events even occur on the same day, whereas that never happens with your date-docked birthday and Christmas. Furthermore –

“I already know your next line, One.”

– your mom also has a twin.

“Call it a tie, then,” I say, softening my protest.

But a tie it is not, interjects Four.

“How so, Yoda?”

Because, replies Five instead of Four, a heart is involved. By that, I mean everything a mother has is poured into her children. Jean Blackwell always set aside her own interests, health and rest to meet your large family’s needs, wants and desires.

Resumes Four, Ever wonder why she was so adventurous when she was away from all of you? Think of the time Jean and JoAn – yes, your mother and her twin – water-ski in Mexico.

crocodileExults Six, Before hitting the waters, they ask the boat operator why none of the locals are splashing in the lake. He answers, “Ees where sweem beeg croc-o-diles.” But the terrific twins pop behind a boat and ski, anyway. You kids, shocked, ask why Jean would do that. What answer does your mom give?

“‘No big deal,’ she says. ‘All we had to do was stay upright.’”

Five laughs heartily, then explains, Your mom lives out her adventures away from home so her children’s exploits are never overshadowed.

Two softly reminds, Yet she, a bold Blackwell herself, is the one fan sitting in the high-school bleachers during your rain-soaked soccer matches.

“Mom never complains about the biting cold, the soaking wet,” I gulp in remembrance. “Instead, she peppers us for details about shooting on goal, making mid-field plays, energetically running grass fields.”

Questions Three, When you mother takes up horseback riding later in life, bringing style and class to her equestrian efforts, do you ever ask her to speak of the triumphs she experiences?

“You know I don’t.”

The long-awaited vacation in Vermont, recalls Four, goes wrong early on when daredevils Mike and Jeff snap legs on icy moguls. But Jean, an excellent skier who dreamed for months of schussing those slopes, lays aside her own gear to tend your brothers.

“She does get to go out at the very end,” I weakly counter, then shake my head as I add, “Winds up breaking her own leg.”

Yes, laughs One. And that just adds to her frustration, not because pain ends her own skiing but because she cannot tend the Big Boys with the same care she always offers her children.

Suddenly images flash through my head,  so many I cannot track them all. I would ask the six screens to capture the life moments, slow them down so I might study them more intently, but I realize my screens are intentionally flooding my memory.

For untold minutes, I stand in one place, eyes closed, marveling at all this bright woman so easily, selflessly set aside. She has scholastic smarts, hidden arts, vocational starts, but the world sees only her tireless raising of half-a-dozen ruffians in such a manner they all conquer college.

I sigh in amazement. Queries Two, What are you thinking about, Boss?

“How I’d like to thank Mom.” Uneasy at knowing such an opportunity is forever gone, I shuffle my feet. “But it’s too late.”

Not at all, reassures Three. Because the Next Generation – all those grandkids Jean so lovingly nurtures after she “finishes” you six – will read your words and understand just how distinguished their heritage is, indeed.

I laugh, thinking of monster crocodiles chasing momster cowgirls around the lake. In that thought, I find just the right expression of gratitude.

“Happy Mother’s Day and happy birthday, Mom. Thanks for making our lives a big deal. Thanks for staying upright.”


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Postscript: Last week I offered the clip of Toya Graham, the black woman who bravely stepped into the very midst of the Baltimore riots to chastise her son and pluck him from the mayhem.

In the days since, Miss Toya has been reviled by both the press (Washington Post headlines read, “Why Is Baltimore Celebrating the Beating of a Child?”) and “experts” who denounced her “use of violence to combat violence.”

Toya GrahamPolitically incorrect chap I may be, I re-issue my cheers and thank Mom Graham for having the courage to go against the rioting crowds, the shaming naysayers, the precipitous danger. She understood her son’s thoughtless participation could have proved life’s last moment and raced in to rescue that boy, setting him on a new and better path even as she did so.

You are exceptional, Miss Toya. Not that the words of an “ADHD Powered” man and his six screens will make you one whit wealthier, but you have our vote for “Mother of the Year.”

May this Sunday be an extraordinary celebration for involved mothers everywhere.

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This year’s best Mother’s Day commercial