Happy Mothers’ Day, Mom.
Sure wish you were here with me so I could give you a hug and tell you all this in person instead of writing it down in a letter.
I’ve been thinking of you a lot lately (Mothers’ Day does that to a person, you know), and I want to take a minute to thank you for everything you’ve given me.
Unconditional and Unending Love. I don’t remember even one second in which I didn’t feel how much you loved me, although I can think of more than a few times when I felt less than worthy of it. (Sorry again for those times in my teens when I lashed out at you in anger when you tried to make sure I got to medical appointments.) You stayed with me during my darkest hours and believed in me when no one else did. If everyone could experience the kind of love you gave me, Mom, the world would be a very different place.
Laughter. Oh my goodness, have we laughed hard together. There was the Christmas we spent in Florida when I was just getting sick. We were playing the “Godfather” board game and when you just couldn’t catch a break, you got so frustrated you blurted out what became the only swear word I ever heard you comfortably utter, “Oh, poopshit!” I thought Dad and I were going to throw up we laughed so hard. And the time I came home from college, and you and I got flat out silly from dressing the dog (a mini-poodle) up in my baby jammies and old doll clothes. Buffy didn’t see the humor in it all, but we sure did. Even though we’ve shed far too many tears together, we’ve spent far more time laughing than crying.
Time and Attention. You were the best “room mother” ever to walk the halls of Union Lake Elementary School. You made hand-sewn Halloween costumes for me (and dressed up with me, too), and sand sculptures with me at the beach. My lunch bags were works of art, and there was a note from you wishing me a great day in each one. You were poetry in motion as you sailed past my gangly teenage friends at the roller rink when you took us skating. When my hands didn’t work after the second tumor surgery, I made it through my 10th grade Accounting class because you spent dozens of hours entering the numbers I dictated into tiny boxes on ledger paper.
Stability and Security. It felt like a pain some times when I was growing up, but I’m so grateful that we sat down together for dinner every night at five. I could always count on you being there to pick me up from school in bad weather so I didn’t have to walk home in the pouring rain or heavy snow. I never doubted for a moment that we’d be fine after you and Dad divorced even though I knew our financial situation was very different than it was when you were married. You were always there when I needed you, whether I called to you in the next room because I was going to “fro up” or phoned you from thousands of miles away because I was scared of some new change my body was going through.
Money Management Skills. As a Depression-era child who grew up poor, you knew better than anyone the importance of budgeting your money and never spending more than you earned, and you made sure I knew it too. Because of what you taught me when I was growing up, I’ve never been in debt and have always paid all my bills on time and in full every month. And you made sure I’d never have to go through the problems you had with establishing your own credit history when you divorced after thirty-plus years of marriage by co-signing for a Marathon Oil gas credit card in my name the day I turned 18.
And there’s so much more. I was lucky enough to inherit your intuition and compassion for others, and blessed that you insisted I have good manners like sending hand-written thank you notes. You taught me everything from a strong work ethic to how to get ink out of a shirt. You gave me life once, and kept me alive when I wanted to give up twice.
I can’t ever thank you enough for being so good to, and for me, but I hope that this is a good start. Happy Mothers’ Day, Mom. I’ve got a big kiss and hug waiting for you the next time we’re together.
All my love always,
Author’s note: I lost my Mom five years ago. She suffered multiple brain bleeds, lapsed into a coma, and passed away a little more than 12 hours later after her doctor continued to prescribed high doses of blood thinners even though he had already treated her for internal bleeding. It all happened so quickly I wasn't even able to get on a plane to go to her before she died, and I never got the chance to say goodbye. Although I told her at every opportunity how much I loved her, and said thank you to her often for so many things, this is the first time I’ve told her in such detail why I am so glad she’s my Mom. I wish I’d done it a lot sooner.