That’s right, two of them. My first one died of cancer when I was eight.
Who was she?
She was my mommy. She made my meals and kept me clothed. For someone who didn’t like the sewing machine, she turned out some pretty dress for my three sisters and me. She heard my cries in the night. That dark night when I tossed and turned and finally wheezed, “I can’t sleep!” She heard from down the hall, and heard what I didn’t say, “I can’t breathe.” She put Vic’s on my chest and soon sleep came.
She was an organizer of things. Upstairs in the closet were binders full of carefully filed Story Mates that I could read for hours. Downstairs in the cellar were perfectly lined rows of canned peaches. But the house wasn’t really tidy, overall.
She was a singer. I don’t think she really cared how she sounded. She just sang from her heart.
She was a soul-lover and nurse. She put herself through nursing school. After earning her RN, she served in a clinic in Guatemala where she met my Dad. They served there together for the first few years of their marriage.
Come to think of it, she must not have cared about the status quo, because that was a rare occurrence in her church in her day.
She was the woman that gave me life, but in many ways, I don’t feel like I ever knew her. Sometimes, I would like to ask her things like “Do you like milk chocolate or dark or not at all?” “Do you enjoy driving?” “What did you first think of Dad when you met?”
But I don’t have this opportunity or this loss.
I do have a note she left me in her final days telling me to pursue a job, not for the paycheck, but because I find fulfillment in it.
I do have the pieces of her that run in the blood. She’s there when I relish tearing lettuce, dicing tomato, and slicing cucumber for a delectable salad. She’s there when I laugh so hard the tears come as I release the stress of life. She’s there in the brown eyes that look back at me from the mirror, eyes that can’t stand to see the suffering of any living thing.
Mother’s are never quite gone.
But who’s my Mom?
She’s a brave woman. It takes someone gusty and wise to walk into a readymade family with its own quirky brand of humour that you don’t “get” yourself. It takes wisdom to know how quickly to fill the Mom shoes, what to adapt to, what to maintain to be you.
God’s in the business of creating people for jobs that need doing and He found the right one for us. She’s independent, organized, health conscious, compassionate, mission-minded, practical and a lover of red.
Our relationship is all roses and thorns. She is one of my best friends but when you love someone, they can hurt you deeply and you can hurt them deeply. Sometimes the thorns are her confronting my pride and self-centredness. Sometimes they are our humanity getting in the way.
But then there are blossoms!
She does the obvious things like laundry; cooking balanced, delicious meals; cleaning etc.
She has taught me so much. She’s taught me how to sew neatly and is a whiz herself. She shows me ways to be frugal like taking a water bottle with me everywhere I go and eating beans instead of meat, now and then. She’s taught me that generosity should never depend on the size of your bank account. She has taught me to be independent by forcing me to make decisions that I would rather not. She’s taught me how to cook, bake, clean and shop for modest clothing.
She listens to me talk myself out and as a result, maybe knows me better than I know myself. Her advice has often been pertinent whether it’s about teaching “What you allow, you have to put up with” or life “You just have to let it go and forgive.”
She has encouraged my dreams. She reads me blog (and points out the spelling errors) and encourages me to send stuff to publishers. She listens to my songs and gives me new piano music. She pushes me to take leaps of faith and pursue what God is telling my heart. She is as excited as I am about the next step of my life, post-secondary education. She lets me go, lets me try my wings.
She gives to me in little ways, making my lunch when life is hectic, sewing me a new dress when I don’t have the time, buying clothing necessities when I am feeling pinched in my pennies or a sweater just because.
She may or may not appreciate this public description of her as she is a private person, but I want her to not that I appreciate and love her.
In these final minutes of Mother’s Day.