This is the hardest day of the year. Birthdays... Anniversaries... those are all tough, but today is the most painful. While the world around me is celebrating today with cards, presents, and brunches with mom, it is impossible to escape the reality that my mom is not here. If I could, I would curl up in bed and sleep today away.
So, I will do the next best thing~today I want to remind the world how wonderful my mom was.
One year and eight months ago, I spoke at my mom's funeral.
This is what I said...
When I was 13, my mom stood on stage at the Poston Junior High Faculty Follies dressed in head to toe spandex, a Tina Turner wig, dancing her tail off for all of my peers to see. In front of my cool friends and the dozen or so boys I had crushes on, I was mortified! For awhile there, it felt as if her sole purpose in life was to embarrass me. As I’ve gotten older, I realize that the very quality in her that haunted me in my teens, the ability and desire to say and do whatever you want, without worrying about being judged was a gift and one of the many ways I wish I was more like her.
From the time I was little, I idolized her because she was a teacher. And in the eyes of little ones, teachers are heroes. For some, teaching is a job. For my mom it was a passion. She loved language and words. She loved the way a well-written line or verse could bring chills to you. She was able to grasp the attention of unfocused, preoccupied fourteen year-olds and entrance them with Emerson and Shakespeare.
I remember sitting with her as she prepared her unit on Romeo and Juliet for class and she would read it to me. I was probably eight or nine and should have been reading Freckle Juice or something silly. But, we were reading Shakespeare together. She brought it to life and I fell in love with it. That’s what she was able to do with her students. She loved being in the classroom and making an impact on her students’ lives. She got teenagers. She understood their humor, she appreciated them as people and could see past their quirky and awkward age. They made her laugh and see things through their eyes.
She was one of those teachers you just never forget.
As a mother, you could say she smothered us with love. In fact, she was overprotective. Safety was her main concern and she loved to lecture any person we were with on how to make sure we were kept out of danger, even as adults. My brother in law, Casey, knows this all too well. He was the recipient of many of those talks.
As kids, she taught us to think freely, go against the grain, and stand up for something. Intellectually, she gave us all the freedom in the world. But, physically she protected us like a mother bear. She thought everything was going to kill us. Just a month or so ago, she lectured me on driving in the rain. She thought that the moment it started sprinkling, every person on the road should immediately turn around and go home. That only crazy people drove if it was raining. I think I got the brunt of her protectiveness because I somewhat listened to her. She gave up on my sister a long time ago. She knew Bri would do whatever Bri wanted. If you don’t know us well, I am the obedient, responsible daughter and Bri is the rebellious, has a mind of her own daughter. But combined, we are my mom. She was the best of us both.
Over the years, my mom taught me many things:
You can never have too many cute shoes. I know she is smiling down on me right now, thrilled and surprised that I didn’t come here in flip flops.
You cant change a man, football will always get first priority on tv. So, Give up the fight!
She taught me Courage. In the face of adversity, she never backed down. She had integrity and a backbone!
She also taught me you can't take yourself too seriously~to be goofy because it makes life more fun!
And last, she taught me that there is such a thing as a true love story. She lived it with my dad.
Two days ago, my dad gave Bri and I a letter he had found in my mom’s dresser drawer. It was written years ago to us, but somehow I had never gotten it. The words I read were tender and stirring, but exactly what I needed at a moment when the last few days events felt as if they would crush me. To Bri and I she wrote, “Every joy, as well as every setback, I will share with you--even when I’m not physically here. Talk to me, let me visit you in your dreams, and know that a mother can never really leave her children--ever.”
In the last weeks of her life I would just sit with my mom. We would sit in silence…just sit. There was no need for anything to pass between us. There were no words left unsaid. I will never wish I had said I love you because it was said each time I walked out the door. Our bond was unshakable.
My mom was generous, smart, funny, feisty, and silly. I miss her smile, her laughter, and the goofy way she used to sneeze. I just miss everything about her.
She was my mother.
She was my friend.
And… she was exquisite.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I love you!