Today is Mother’s Day. And in honor of this day I would like to take some time to write some things to all those women who have helped shape the person I am and continue to become.
My Aunts, Anita and Kathy: These two women have had very different effects on me. One has struggled her entire adult life with a mental disease that took so much away from her, and so many people don’t understand how devastating this must have been. But here she is today, not giving up and living her life the best way she knows how. And even though I may never know the person she hoped to become, I can know the woman she is today and love her unconditionally. The other, although from afar, has always been a source of love and support for me. Beautiful and fragile, passionate and loving, she has never forgotten my birthday or been (emotionally) absent from an important milestone in my life. Even when times seem their darkest, her unwavering faith and belief in all that is good in this world perseveres above all and you can’t help but get caught up in the goodness. She helps me remember that there is always another day, another way to be loved, feel loved, and give love.
My Grandmother, Inez (may she rest in peace): I never knew my paternal grandparents. One died before I was born, the other when I was one or two. My maternal grandfather passed away when I was six, and remains one of the people I miss most in my life. After he died, my maternal grandmother chose not to be devastated by sorrow and grief. She continued on and lived an incredibly full life for the next 17 years. She had lived all over the world in countries like Afghanistan; her family is honored in a museum in Boise, Idaho; she had stories that you could hardly believe were true had you not known she wasn’t one to lie. She was a painter later in life, loved butterflies and golf, was an avid Bronco fan and Elway supporter, and she smelled like pressed powder. She let me do cartwheels in her living room, danced with me to The Lawrence Welk Show, and picked strawberries with me. In her final years, she suffered from dementia. While difficult for us as the family that took care of her, her frustration with her lack of memory and inability to do simple daily tasks wore on her more than she let on. I feel as her body fought on at the end, her soul was pleasantly drifting, reunited with my grandfather and all of those who went before her. I think of her daily and can’t help but be sad my child won’t have the opportunity to know her personally; but he will know her through me.
My Sisters, Denise, Michelle and Cheryl (pronounced with a hard CH, like chair): As I have mentioned before, I am the youngest of five, with 10 years separating me from my closest sibling. When I tell people this, they are always a little surprised. I understand why, but for me, it’s all I’ve ever known. And because of that, at a young age I travelled to cool places for college graduations, saw many parts of the country to visit family, and received mail regularly from my sisters. Always interested in my life, supporting me from near and far, and always able to drive me around. Today, between the three of them, they have eight children, and I have been the lucky one who was able to help raise them in the way my sisters raised me. I have seen them go through heartaches and elation as their children have broken bones, won championships and contests, entered high school, took first steps, had broken friendships and broken hearts, had surgery, first words and first laughs. And if I needed them, the knowledge that they would drop everything they were doing to be there for me is like a warm blanket protecting me. I only hope that I have been there for them the way they have been there for me.
The One, the Only, Mom: One Mother’s Day, I didn’t have any money, so I typed up the lyrics to the Backstreet Boys’ song, The Perfect Fan, and gave them to my mom. It sounds cheesy when I write it out like that, but lyrically, this song really summed up how I was feeling about my mom. (Sample lyric: You showed me/When I was young just how to grow/You showed me/Everything that I should know/You showed me/Just how to walk without your hands/Cuz mom you always were/The perfect fan) I was the youngest of five, and my mom could’ve just phoned this one in. But she was there for me. She coached soccer teams (even though she had NO previous knowledge of the game); she drove carpool and went to every single soccer, volleyball, basketball game and swim meet; there were always fresh baked goods in the kitchen and home-cooked meals on the table; she made my lunch every day, nurtured my talents, let me make mistakes and find my own path. And now looking back, the most amazing part of all of this, is that she did it without pretense or want for gratitude. She just did it because she was my mom, and she loved me. And she still has those lyrics taped up on the wall in her office.
To all the moms, and moms-to-be, I wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day!