When I was five, we painted wooden oven rack pullers at Vacation Bible School. You never actually used yours; instead it hung on the kitchen wall right beside the stove. Even after it had faded so badly that you could barely read the word 'Mom" scrawled by my hand in red marker, it still hung there. Likewise, you framed, FRAMED, one of my kindergarten paintings - the one of a rainbow sandwiched between a big yellow sun and a green hillside. I honestly can't remember if it's still hanging up today (since I don't get to come home too often), but I know it was there for many, many years. As a young child, I thought that painting must be a masterpiece if my mother framed it. That meant something to me too. Remembering how special it made me feel, I recently framed my own daughter's artwork and hung it in her bathroom. She was SO proud to see it there.
When I was on a school trip during my junior year, I bought you a wooden box that said "I love you, Mom". You were surprised that I spent my money on a gift for you, instead of on myself. I knew THAT meant something to you. It must still mean something to you today, because it sits in the middle of your dresser.
You always came to my home softball games. I didn't think much of it at the time - that's just what parents do. But as an adult and a mother of four now, I realize that's NOT what all parents do. I know how hard it is to juggle my schedule and fit in all of the kids' activities and attend all of the things I feel compelled to attend as their mother. Somehow you managed to be sitting on the bleachers every time, despite the fact that you worked full time and we lived so far away from school. You knew we'd get home late, you'd still have to make supper and take care of everyone and everything in the house. But you did it.
Speaking of supper, practically everything we ate growing up was homemade, from scratch. No box dinners, no frozen meals. I wish I could do that as well as you did. For me (and for Rob!), one of the highlights of coming home for a visit is eating your cooking.
You didn't always agree with my choices. I know you and daddy wanted me to attend a college closer to home. I know you didn't want me to take an assignment in Germany after I finished nursing school. But you knew that I wanted those things, and so you supported me. You often told me how proud you were of me. I distinctly remember the card you mailed to me when I was promoted to Captain in the Army. It is tucked away safely in an album, a reminder that my accomplishments were celebrated by another.
You showed me how to treat people. I remember how respectful you were to the elderly people we knew growing up. I remember little ways in which you helped them. I remember how you told me about bringing food to a young homeless man and his dog in Statesboro. I inherited my tender heart from you. You are the reason why there's a dog sleeping at my feet right now, after being fished out of a dumpster 15 years ago. You are part of the reason I have a 11 year old who once knew nothing outside of orphanage walls, but now sleeps peacefully in her pink and yellow bedroom, secure in the knowledge that she matters. Because you made me think it was okay to love with your whole heart - even at the risk of having it broken - and give people chances. I'm not quite sure how you instilled that belief in me, but I hope that when my children are grown they can look back and say the same thing about me - that I loved them enough to make them believe that THEY can take chances, make changes, and love freely.
Happy Mother's Day. I love you.
(This is last year's photo. Haven't done one this year...yet!)