My dad and Stevie Wonder have a love/hate relationship. He's a year older than the soul singer, so it's rather weird hearing him talk about Stevie as if they were brothers, despite the fact that they have never met. Ever. But that's how it is with my family: we have beefs and issues with people we may have never met, all because of what they've either done musically and publicly.
Wonder is a great, a legend whose music stands not only the test of time but who continues to work awards shows as if he were promoting a brand-new album. (He also turned 63 Monday.) From tribute shows to things that look like barbecue cookouts with the production budget of the VMAs, Stevie and his dreadlocks are there, behind the piano singing one of his classics.
Which brings me to this past Sunday, Mother's Day. My mom, who by and large enjoys more soul music at night than any woman alive, probably would have otherwise gone to Corpus Christi to see her cousins and hang out with her sister, who is her best friend by eons and eons and easily the most understandable person in my immediate family.
"What did you get your mom for Mother's Day?" he asked.
"Nothing," I told him.
His brow furrowed, eyes lowered, and then he repeated himself. "What did you get your mom for Mother's Day?"
"Nothing, I made her a collage."
Thanks to creativity and the powers of the Internet, I somehow snuck out of buying a cheap Hallmark card. In 2013, the biggest beef you can have with an immediate family member usually revolves around something that happened on Facebook. My mom annoyed me to no end with game requests, mostly Candy Crush things, and I removed her.
She didn't want to be my friend. We almost said nothing at Thanksgiving dinner because of it. But for the longest time, she had been begging me to do something for her photo-wise. A woman who loves taking photos, who collects photo albums of almost every moment of her life, had zlich, zero, nothing of me on her Facebook page.
And it irked the hell out of her.
So on Sunday, while humming Stevie Wonder, I made a collage for my mother and stuck it on Facebook. And Instagram. And received 30 combined likes for it, because people think my mother is a fox for 59.
The cheapest Mother's Day gift? No, it took about five minutes to get the edges right, so it cost like eons in time writing and watching Sunday-morning TV. I could have just sung the greatest non-Mother's Day song in history, Stevie's "I Just Called To Say I Love You" and went on about my day but instead, I worked and slaved over a four-picture Instagram collage.
Because I'm a good son.
And if I had my way, she'd have seen Stevie sing that beautiful tune live in front of her.
At 63, Wonder is on the Mount Rushmore of great musicians who somehow still seem underrated despite all of his great efforts in life. There could be entire essays about Wonder's erratic scatting on tracks, the way his musicianship pretty much gave birth to almost every young music critic on Earth, and how Hotter Than July is arguably Wonder's greatest album ever.
But my dad almost sneered at me when I said I was going to just play "I Just Called to Say I Love You" for Mother's Day. Maybe I should have played Leon Russell's "Tight Rope"; he probably would have enjoyed that. I'll save it for Father's Day.
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Happy Mother's Day, Mom.