Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Mother's Day Tribute

I've experienced many "firsts" following the death of a loved one during the past six years...the first Father's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, anniversary, Valentine's, and birthday after Eddie's death as well as the first birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas since Mama died. I know the first is always the hardest, so I've tried to prepare myself for this first Mother's Day without my mother. But as anyone who has lost a loved one knows, no matter how hard you try there's really nothing you can do to prepare yourself for how hard certain days are going to be. There's no point in trying to ignore the day or in pretending like there's nothing significant about it. The day is going to come, it's going to be difficult, and all we can do is survive it. As much as I've dreaded spending this day without my mother for the first time in 53 years, I know there's no way to avoid it. So I decided the best way to get through it is to remember and pay tribute to her - to the wonderful person, daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, and friend that she was.

My mother was the most selfless person I have ever known. In my entire life I cannot remember one time that she put herself first. She was always more concerned with other's feelings, needs, and wants than she was with her own. Even when she was sick she still wanted to take care of others instead of herself. She picked Emily up from school, kept her in the afternoons, did things for Trey, checked on my dad, and had her mother live with her until she was no longer physically able. When the time came that she couldn't do these things any more she cried, not for herself but for everyone else, because she felt like she was letting them down. Everyone who was at her funeral heard me give just a few examples of her selfless acts - taking Emily's tennis shoes to her at school when she forgot them on PE day, going to lunch at Emily's school even when she was wearing her chemo pump bag, calling my dad every single day to make sure he was ok, getting someone to help him walk on the beach and into the ocean on our last vacation, bringing her mother to live with her even when she wasn't feeling up to taking care of her, and the indescribable support she gave to me after Eddie died.

I never gave any thought to my mother's unselfish way of life when I was growing up. Just like everyone else, especially during my teenage years, I was absorbed in school, my friends, my activities. But looking back now, I see just how much my mother must have sacrificed for me. I can't remember ever doing without anything I wanted, especially during my high school years. My mother was a single mom working as a secretary in a very small town at that time. I was involved in a lot of activities...cheerleading, student council, Beta Club, Y-Club...that required money for dues, uniforms, trips, camps, etc. Though she probably made just enough for us to live on, I was always able to do everything I wanted. And it wasn't just the money - she gave of her time as well. She was the mother who chaperoned, supervised, transported, and volunteered whenever and wherever she was needed. I have no idea how she did what she did, and I am sorry to say I don't think I ever adequately thanked her for it.

Of course I don't have to tell anyone who knew my mother about her faith. She didn't just read the Bible and go to church on Sunday - she lived her faith every day of her life. She didn't "preach" to others yet her faith was evident in everything she said and did. She believed in the power of prayer and encouraged everyone around her to do the same. There were many times I wanted her to get mad at someone or something, but she wouldn't. Instead she always remained calm and prayed for the person or the thing that was causing her difficulty. Right up to the day she died, she believed she was going to be healed...and in the end she was...her healing just took place in heaven instead of here on Earth.

But more than anything, I will remember my mother for all she did for me after Eddie's death. She was here for whatever I needed or wanted. She held me when I cried, listened when I wanted to talk, sat with me in silence when I didn't, encouraged me when I didn't think I could keep going, and left me alone when I told her to. Though she certainly didn't deserve it, she took the brunt of my anger more than once during this time. She told me things I needed to hear as well as things I didn't want to. She encouraged me and supported me unconditionally, and I know I would not have survived without her.

Though my mother's life was cut short by cancer, she made the most of the time she was given. She was a positive influence and role model, not only for me, but for everyone who knew her. She was a true blessing to all of her parents as their youngest daughter (although from the stories I've heard she was a bit of a rebel growing up); to her siblings as their baby sister (even if she drove them crazy at times); to Trey as the grandmother with whom he shared a special bond for 30 years (even though he didn't always like it when she told him exactly what she thought); to Emily as the great grandmother many children don't ever have the chance to know (I pray she will remember the time she spent with her "meme"); to all of her friends who had the opportunity to be a part of her life either through school, church, work, or as a neighbor; and finally to me as the wonderful mother who is responsible for the person I am today. I think it's safe to say my mother made a lasting impression on everyone she met. I miss her terribly and would give anything to be able to talk to her again. And while I may not understand why someone so good had to suffer and be taken away from all who needed her here, I will always be thankful for the time we had and truly grateful that God chose her to be my mother.

"A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie." ~Tenneva Jordan

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1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful tribute to your mother! Those firsts are very hard indeed! So thankful that I got to visit with her that day!