Monday, May 7, 2012

May 7, 1979

Mom in her early 20's
(Dear reader: If you were the only reason I write this blog, I wouldn't write today's post. I think maybe I write too often about the past and my parents and who wants to read about love and loss? But aside from God, loss has been my greatest teacher. Writing helps me sort it out. So today I write about my most profound loss.)

Early on a Monday morning, May 7, 1979, the phone rang in our two-bedroom house in Florida. I was up early to take three visiting high school friends to the airport. Knowing the call was for me, I answered. "Your mother is gone," said my dad. Mom had lost her battle with cancer in a few short months. I am a healthy 57 now and she was dead at 53.

I've shed a lot of tears in these 33 years without her. She died the week of Mother's Day. No one should lose their mother around Mother's Day. She loved little children and big ones too and never held a single grandchild. She laughed and lived well and stayed home to raise us. She died just months before her nest emptied. That was very hard on my dad.

But as the years roll on, as I live through the seasons of life, the sting of these should-have-beens has lessened. In fact, I wonder if I'm a stronger mother for having lost mine. In the 24 years I knew my mother, I inherited a rich legacy. Only now do I realize that.

While I didn't have her with me as I raised four children, by her example I learned to manage toddlers and teenagers on my own.  To use child psychology. To be a good neighbor and love the unlovable. To give blood regularly! Mom was a get-it-done sort of woman, feeding us well, supporting Dad, and home-making (I just love that term). I heard her say "oh, it'll do" countless times, her way of going with the flow of life and not sweating the small stuff.

I guess you could say that May 7, 1979 was the day I began to grow up. I missed Mom terribly, especially as my children were born. But I knew exactly what she'd say to me. "Just do what you need to do. Love your husband and children. Listen to them and laugh with them. Enjoy them. You'll do fine, dear."

And I have. More than that, I try to make the most of the time I spend with my kids. I hope I've taught them the important stuff. And, God has shown me women who need a mother and I try to pass on what Mom taught me.

I miss you, Mom. But thanks for teaching me most everything I needed to know, even before I needed to know it.

... do not forsake your mother's teaching. Proverbs 1:8


Anonymous said...

I just looked at the calendar, realized the date and came over here to see if you'd written anything. Your mom's love shines through you. We are all blessed by her love and wisdom.

Love you, my friend.

Anne said...

I have only recently accepted her death. And that my being the only child left at home in her time of greatest need, was a blessing, not a curse. I have also recently seen the enormous legacy she left in being the most incredible woman and mother and passing along those traits to her daughters. Thank you dear, sis. Mom would be so proud of you! Love you lots!

klrodman said...

I'm glad you wrote this post. It reminds those of us with still-living moms to let them know how much we appreciate & love them. It's easy to let the day-to-day stuff happen & miss those opportunities! Thanks.

Bonnie Hudson said...

Barb, I can't even imagine what that much have been like for you, but this is such a loving tribute to your mom and testifies to the impact mothers have on our lives, no matter how long or how short a time we have them. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.