Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day

I write those words with a touch of sadness. It's been five years since I've been able to greet my own mom with them. Mom and Dad both passed away in 2004, within 8 weeks of each other, and I've been missing them more than usual lately.
My mom did not have an easy life. She was an only child, greatly doted on by both parents and she lost them both in her early forties. She was so close to her mom, it was like losing her best friend, too.
Three out of four of Mom's children got into drugs and spent time in prison for it (you"ll have to guess if one of them was me). She lost a son and a grandson to drug overdoses. She had a crazy mother-in-law, worse than most. All this in addition to the usual heartaches and tears that come with raising children.
But in spite of it all, my mom was a hoot! I don't remember ever seeing her in a bad mood--sad sometimes, but never just crabby. (Too bad I didn't follow that example.) She somehow managed to bring joy and laughter into our home no matter what crazy circumstances were going on around her.
One of my favorite Mom stories started one day when I smelled something burning. I went into the kitchen--no mom. As I looked around, I spotted her sitting on the cement stairs on our small back porch.
"Mom", says I, "I smell something burning!"
"It's me!", she replied, a wry expression on her face. Then she began to laugh. She'd left the gas on too long before lighting the oven and had singed off her eyebrows. So there we sat on the back porch, moaning and laughing.
Later in life, Mom struggled with some dementia, including a very active "fantasy" life. When she was in a nursing home briefly, every day as she finished her lunch she would stand up and thank everyone for coming to her "birthday party".
But we were blessed--Mom was never angry or mean and only got frustrated when we insisted on dragging her back into reality. We have some pretty funny stories from that time, usually with Mom laughing right along with us. Over and over again we heard from those who helped us care for her how sweet she was.
I think the real gift that Mom was able to give her children through the life we saw her live was the gift of incredible hope. No matter what was happening, Mom was able to treat each new morning like the new beginning it was. She showed us by example how pointless and foolish it was to hold a grudge, to waste time being angry, and how to let go of petty and selfish grievances.
Mom was generous with all she had (which sometimes wasn't much). She loved her garden and grew the most beautiful roses, but I think she had as much joy in sharing bouquets with the neighbors as in growing the roses. I think to be a gardener one must be a person who hopes.
My sister and I have noticed many times our tenacity in holding onto hope even when there seems to be no reason at all. We're like the little girl who gets a big pile of manure deposited in her yard for her birthday. Instead of tears and tantrums, she dives right in and starts to dig in all that crap. When she's asked what in the world she's doing, she replies,
"With a pile of poop this big, there must be a pony in here somewhere!"
Thanks, Mom, for teaching us to keep digging for the pony.
So in spite of the circumstances, I say,
"Happy Mother's Day, Mom!"
to you, Mom. Although I miss you lots, I'm glad you're happy in heaven now, reunited with your beloved Sam, and Mark, and Jason and your mom and dad, too. Thanks for all the hope and I know I will be seeing you again.

If you're reading this and your mother is still with you, give her an extra hug for me and don't neglect to tell her what she means to you. In the spirit of my mom, I'm hoping you'll do that today

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