My mom is in Spain. There are many fun things do where she is and I hope she is doing them. Happy Birthday, Mom (GG). Another day, another year. I’d like to thank my mom. You always hear that, with actors, athletes and musicians. Politicians, preachers, and convicts. One of my favorite lines from “3:10 to Yuma”(the remake) addresses that acknowledgment. Russell Crowe’s character, the villain of sorts, is told by a Pinkerton detective that his mother was uh . . . less than saintly. Right before Crowe throws him off a cliff, he says “Even bad men love their mamas.” I have seen men, and boys, who want to act like the baddest guy on the planet, but when mom shows up it is bowed head and not a word. We know. We know there is a sacrifice. We don’t understand, but we know. Number one, we grew inside their bodies. We made them human incubators. I forget to feed my dog. They carried us around for nine months. Number two, everything else. Guys don’t get their dad’s name tattooed on them. (Perhaps, in the event of a death.) We are not a nation full of single dads. I know there are some out there, but really we are facing an epidemic of fatherlessness. Allow me to make this more concrete. My wife and my mom can frustrate me more than any two other people on the planet. My daughter is a solid third, but she still has years to catch up. Why can’t I just accept their persistent constructive criticism and readily offered advice I don’t even have to ask for? Seriously though, I am trying to say something. It is convenient, pleasant, and extremely fashionable to exist behind a veil of normalized existence. But mom’s aren’t going to buy that. Trying to con your mom is like trying to dunk on Shaq. They know you. My mom knows when I am hurt, happy or hurried. That is because she cares. That is because she has seen me grow, cry, fall, grow some more, cry some more, and fall some more. That is because she has been there encouraging, crying, and hugging as I have been growing, crying, and falling. I think my mom loves me more than I love myself. I have ignored my mom, back talked my mom, cursed at my mom and generally been a jerk to my mom. I like to think all that was in my teenage years, but I know some disrespect has spilled over. You know what disrespecting your mom is like? It’s like getting a nose job. You are saying nose mom I don’t like the way you are. I don’t care that you have helped me breathe/live, taste/eat and smell/appreciate the world. You cramp my style and so I am going to cut you out of my life, to whatever extent. (Now, disrespecting your dad is like getting botox, but that’s a whole other story.) You know what my wife said it was like to have my mom stay with us? She said it made her feel safe. My mom doesn’t own an assault rifle and she doesn’t know karate (unless she has been secretly learning) and maybe that sounds like a weird thing to say about a chronologically mature woman. But I know what she means. My mom is a mom. Yup. She moves in our world without pretension, vain ambition, or self deception. For all my mom’s great strengths, she has one great flaw. She doesn’t know or appreciate how great she is. Happy birthday, mom. We know why God has given you ** years so far. Some other people we are questioning, but for my mom each year she has been alive is a year we, ME, have been blessed. And your little granddaughter will always have a special “Gichee” and smile for you. We will still need you.