Did you see what Cher got her mom for Mother's Day? Besides helping Georgia Holt realize her lifelong dream of recording an album, the superstar daughter produced a TV documentary about her mother, basically a love letter for all to see. Or at least for the folks who watch the Lifetime cable channel.
"Dear Mom, Love Cher" was entertaining and sweet. Cher and her sister, Georganne LaPiere, flanked their mother on a huge sofa and the three of them told outrageous family stories, finishing each other's sentences and laughing like schoolgirls. The first thing that struck me was the similarity of their voices, especially between Georgia and Cher. Singing or speaking, it was impossible to tell them apart without visual clues.
It reminded me of my own mother and how much we have in common. Growing up, I often heard people remark that I was the spitting image of Mom, right down to the voice. But I never fully grasped that until one day, during the first year of my first marriage, she called me and I picked up the phone at the same time the answering machine kicked in. It recorded our brief conversation and when I listened to the tape later, it sounded as though I'd been talking to myself. Even I couldn't tell us apart.
Like Cher and her mom, we look alike too. Mom used to joke that she could never leave me on anyone's doorstep; they'd bring me right back to her. She was right. Several times, while walking through her hometown of Makawao, strangers stopped me on the street to say, "You must be Yaemi's daughter, you look just like her." I'd confirm their suspicions and then they'd add, "Wow, you sound just like her too!" The old-timers would go on to tell me what a smart and sweet schoolgirl my mother was.
Once, I found a snapshot of that schoolgirl in a box of old family mementos. Taken at Makawao School, my alma mater also, the black-and-white photo confused me for a minute or two. The young face grinning at me was mine, but I didn't recognize the blouse. If not for that and the dimple on Mom's right cheek, she could not have convinced me that it was her in the picture, not me.
As the program continued, more parallels emerged. Cher announced that, at 86, her mother has released her first album. Georgia, a former singer/actress/model, had recorded some songs with Elvis Presley's musicians in 1980, but the album was never completed. When she found the musty, dusty old tapes more than 30 years later, Cher helped her get them restored and remixed, and "Honky Tonk Woman" was released April 30.
My mom never aspired to stardom, but she did make her professional acting debut at the age of 85, with a delightful performance in the movie "Get a Job." The made-on-Maui comedy recently played at the Wet Your Pants Film Festival in Indianapolis, a benefit for the National Kidney Foundation (I'm not making any of this up, honest promise!). Reliable sources tell me that Mom and her star-making line, which can't be printed in this newspaper, got the biggest laugh from the audience. Now she's on iTunes and DVDs with her co-stars, Willie K and Eric Gilliom.
Like my mom, Georgia Holt is a beautiful, vibrant, fun-loving woman who is clearly cherished and admired by her family. She is an inspiration to everyone who knows her, and a delight to everyone who meets her. Just like my mom.
Naturally, there are as many differences between them as there are similarities. For one, Georgia has had six husbands, while Mom enjoyed 44 years of wedded bliss and never remarried after my father's death in 1999. Then again, as I've told her before, I know there are gentlemen who would love to share her company. With her new movie star status, she probably has even more admirers from afar. And since she has ample energy and spirit to live another 10, 20, heck, 100 years or so, she could match Georgia's marital record if she wanted to.
She won't, of course. She's too busy and too happy living the life she has. She doesn't see herself as a movie star or an inspiration to others. She thinks nothing of the countless hours she spends helping people as a volunteer and as a friend. She has no idea how very special she is. She just twinkles her way through life, happy to be a mom, a grandma, a great-grandmother. She is a great, grand mother indeed.
I love you, Mom. Happy Mother's Day.
* Kathy Collins is a performance artist, broadcaster and freelance writer whose "Sharing Mana'o" column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.