By Heidi Stevens
I was sharing lunch with a friend recently when the conversation turned to happiness, specifically our parents’.
She recalled the first time she saw her dad truly happy, well into her adulthood, after he’d moved a continent away and built a boat for himself. It was lovely, she recalled.
Parents are the first people we’re crazy about. We grow up witnessing and measuring every one of their emotions. Joy is the one we like best, the one we try hardest to inspire, from the moment we realize other people’s emotions are something we get a say in.
Which brings me to my mom, who I am, to this day, crazy about. Most everyone who knows her is. She turned 70 recently, and I called a dozen of her friends ahead of time to invite them to brunch.
“I would do anything for your mom,” one friend replied.
I could have called 60 more people and gotten the same response.
I’ve watched my mom, in my lifetime, create a legacy. I’ve watched her gather a few girlfriends and start a conservation revolution in my hometown of West Dundee, Ill.. I’ve watched her restore habitats and save wildflower species and protect wetlands from being drained and paved over and turned into who knows what. A tanning salon, maybe. Another Chili’s.
I joke that I’m the only one of my friends lucky enough to have a vegan, Prius-driving environmentalist mom who joins protest rallies against the Keystone oil pipeline.
I’m not joking about the lucky part. Lucky that I have a mom who’s kind and funny and energetic and impassioned, yes. Even luckier that she’s healthy, of course.
Most of all, though, I’m lucky I get to see her happy.
My whole life I’ve watched her find joy, through travel and books and bird-watching. With my dad. With her friends. On walks and at work.