Elaine is her name. At age 78, a gifted pianist, one of the strongest and influential personalities in my life, able to get past herself to help others and a spiritual guide to her kids, even when she may not have been feeling especially spiritual herself.
She just underwent four retinal reattachment surgeries since last December without a word of complaint and always hopeful of the positive outcome that God has blessed her with. Since hitting her 70’s, she has had both knees replaced and she still has all of her faculties. She has been the strong hand of support for all three of her kids, particularly me, and this post is a tribute to her and all she has done for me.
Mother’s Day makes me think of the wonderful life I have and what my Mom and Dad have done for me and my brother and sister. Since I live on the west coast, we are not as close geographically as we once were, but are closer in many other ways now. My brother and sister and their families are close by, and an answer to my prayers for someone to be close to Mom & Dad.
It was not always idyllic. In my mom’s case, she and I engaged in what could only be described as open warfare when I was a teenager. I was a problem in countless ways and with a younger brother and sister at home, not a good example. My dad was often away on business and was on call around the world for years. Like me, he was a company man and the work ethic I have, I picked up from him. For years everyone thought I was closer to my namesake grandfather, who paid a lot of attention to me and with whom I had many long, philosophical conversations in my youth, but my grandfather was a lot more mercenary, more calculating, and much less warm than my Mom and Dad. I know he loved me, but it was a different kind of love than what my parents showed the three of us. I can say with joy and gratitude to my God that my Mom and Dad have had, by far, the greatest positive impact on my life.
I remembered the countless times I would have only three and four word conversations with my mom after I came home from school, and how she would try to engage me on my level and how I met her attempts to show love with nothing but contempt or avoidance. Sure, there were some nice times, but usually not because of anything I did or said. Looking back, my mother was a saint just for putting up with my nonsense. My dad, too.
When I was in church this morning, I remembered a time when I was trying to graduate from the University of South Florida and my late great aunt Thelma, picking up a bundle of mail, accidentally picked up my final term paper (sans addresses and postage) and mailed it to nowhere with two days before the due date. It was a moment of stark panic that invaded my mind and my mom was the one who bailed me on that day. She drove me to the post offices and all of the big blue mail boxes to wait for a postman to open so I could find my paper, all to no avail. All other options exhausted, she then took dictation from me and my sketchy notes to retype the paper and then drive it all the way to Tampa just in the nick of time, so I could graduate.
Holding me close in many cases of lost love, many moments of personal doubt and crises of various kinds, my Mom always meets me with understanding, care, affection, and encouragement even now at the age of nearly 53. It’s God’s gift to me. I will never forget three things my Mom did that helped my walk with the Lord: First, she taught me to pray (for a sister, when I was four-it was answered!); second, when I wanted to hang out once a week with some pretty Christian girls (we were Episcopalians then) and go to a youth group she never stopped me, even on a school night; and third, she took me to the small church meeting when I was a college sophomore and I was compelled to trust in The Lord that night.
The bottom line is, in all our humanity and error, love is still embodied by our mothers and mine still shows it to me.
Love you Mom and Happy Mother’s Day