Over the past couple of days, I have spent a lot of time thinking about my mom. One of the earliest memories is kind of a traumatic one. I was around 4 or 5 (I think) and we were shopping and I wanted some candy. She said no and I promptly fell to the floor and screamed bloody murder. She told me to get up and go, but I refused. So, Mom walked away. I looked around, but she was just gone. I was scared to death! I got up and quickly found her, of course, because she was watching me from a distance.
I remember our car adventures. Mom and I had countless hours in a car. We moved frequently and drove to each new location. On long road trips, we would count all the McDonald’s on the way. We used to sing to the super awesome 80’s songs playing on the radio. “Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran was a favorite of ours when we were hungry and looking for a place to eat.
Mom and I lived near Washington D.C. for a couple of years when I was in elementary school. We would ride the bus and subway together every day as she dropped me off at school and picked me up. Looking back now, those must have been long days for her, but I never noticed. When the first snow came, Mom bought me a round sled and I had a blast! I also recall slipping on the ice and pulling her down with me. I remember her face in that moment…a huge smile and eyes that radiated her love. That’s how I think of her in those days, smiling and loving. Back then, Mom and I were alone together in a great big new world. No one to lean on, but each other.
When we moved to Colorado, the only thing that changed was the ability to see my dad more. Mom and I were still a team. It was our apartment here, that I remember Clorox. I hardly ever saw Mom sleep. She was always awake when I went to bed and awake when I got up. She used to clean…a lot. I would wake up to my eyes burning from the bleach she had used to clean the floors.
One year, we lived in an old house. (She still talks about how much she loved the glass doorknobs.) We painted my bedroom floor blue and place a big rug in the center. I think here is a good time to say that Mom loves to paint. She painted everything, well, she still paints everything. I wanted her to cut my bangs, but she was on the phone. She wouldn’t get off quickly enough and I was so upset that I decided to cut them myself. Just a note, I was probably 9 or 10, old enough to know not to cut my own hair. When she saw me crying and realized what happened, she laughed. Then tried to hide it, but not very well.
Christmas with Mom was always the same. We would drive to the rich neighborhoods to look at Christmas lights. Like I said earlier, Mom and I spent a lot of time in the car. Christmas mornings were the only times I remember seeing her sleep. I would come in to her room, probably no later than 4 or 5 in the morning, jump up on the bed and spend the next hour unwrapping every item in my stocking. Mom wrapped each stocking item so that it would give her extra sleep time before she had to get up. After opening my stocking, she would slowly (and I mean slowly) open hers. Then it was on to the Santa gifts. It took me a while to realize that Santa’s handwriting was identical to Mom’s.
Things were easy in those days, for me anyway. As an adult, I realize that it must have been so difficult for her. But I never noticed anything. She was always there for me and always smiling. Mom was a little eccentric, I knew that then, and it embarrassed me. But she was so strong in front of me and I love her for that.
As a teenager, Mom moved back to Texas. I felt completely betrayed and abandoned. I had friends and a life in Colorado and didn’t want to go with her. It hurt that she moved anyway. I think that our relationship changed then. I never stopped loving or admiring her, but it wasn’t the same as before. I visited her in the summers and it was almost like the early days, except there were other little girls in her life. I was so jealous to see that she loved them as much as she loved me. I was always special to her and I didn’t want her to share that closeness with anyone else. I don’t think I ever told her exactly how I felt; maybe she knew anyway. I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve and it’s really hard for me to hide how I feel.
After graduation, things got a little more complicated for me and I decided it was time to move too. So, I moved back to Texas with my mom. I was 18 and independent and ready to take on the world by myself, so I thought. It was nice to see Mom every day, but I knew that I really wanted to be on my own. A couple of years later, I was married and had my own life.
I’m not proud of it, but in those years prior to getting married and the time right afterward, I was so self-absorbed in my own life that I didn’t see things I should have. I didn’t notice that the strong, independent woman I knew growing up was gone and had been for a long time. She was replaced by a scared, battered mom with two small children.
Out of respect for my mom’s privacy, I’m not going to go into too much detail about the next 7 or 8 years. It was so hard to not be able to help the one woman who was always there for me. To watch her spiral and not know what to do was scary. She moved a lot then, more frequently than when I was younger. The fear she lived with daily was unfathomable. That fear combined with the frustration with failing health was difficult to watch. I don’t know how she endured it all. Actually, I do. My mom is brave, so brave. She fought, daily, for survival.
Finally, in the last few years, things have settled down and the strong, independent woman I remember was back. Not only in attitude, but in location. She lives a mere 20 minutes away and I either see her or talk to her almost every day. Our relationship has been completely restored and she is again, my biggest supporter, my rock, my best friend.
But now, this beautiful woman has yet another fight to endure. She is still so brave and completely at peace with whatever happens. I can’t begin to be as strong as she is, but I can be there for her, and I will. I want to be her biggest supporter, her rock, and her best friend.
I love you, Mom.
And we know that in all things
God works for the good of those who love Him,
who have been called according to his purpose.