Happy Mother's Day To All The Wonderful Moms Out There - 05/10/13
This appeared in Austin Woman Magazine in October 2010 ... a few months after my mother died. In honor of my dear mother and Mother's Day, I wanted to share it again. Happy Mother's Day to all of the wonderful moms out there.
I cried when my mother dropped me off for the first day of kindergarten. I blubbered all day long. My teacher didn't know what to do with me. My crying continued through the second, third and fourth days of school. On the fifth day, she made me stand in the corner and said I couldn't come out until I learned how to be a big girl and stopped being a cry-baby. I stood in the corner for a very long time. I couldn't quit crying because I missed my mother. I didn't understand why I needed anyone else to teach me anything. This was the 1960's and my mom was a homemaker. I never went to pre-school.
Looking back on it, I think I was a pretty sharp five-year-old. My mother was an amazing teacher. She taught me to treat other people with kindness and compassion. She was a first class storyteller, a world class sleeper and the best listener I've ever known.
She was also an incredible writer. I inherited my love of writing and journalism from her. She was the editor of her college newspaper. My mother always took time to send personal thank you notes and write beautiful letters. She showed me how to put your heart and soul into causes you care about. She was active in the civil rights movement, helping the less fortunate and volunteered at her church.
My mother was my teacher, my role model and my hero.
During the last five years of her life, the tables were turned. She moved from her home in Houston to Austin. I became my mother's caregiver. Despite the dementia that slowly robbed her of many memories, she continued to be my teacher.
She taught me how to hold my head high in the face of adversity. She showed me how find joy in the simple things in life. One time, I was driving her home from the doctor's office. I was late for work and it started pouring down rain. I let out an angry sigh and she said, "Don't be mad that it's raining -- just look how happy the rain is making the flowers and trees." She was always the optimist.
From my mother, I learned to keep a song in my heart no matter how many obstacles life throws at you. Even in her final weeks of life, she kept singing and remembered the lyrics to every song she ever learned. The day before she died, the nurses told me she woke up singing, You Are My Sunshine.
I was given the amazing gift of spending the last hour of my mother's life with her and held her hand as she died. I always kept a book in her nightstand called The Language of a Mothers Love. This is one of the passages I read to her shortly before she died:
"I love you mother. You gave me life, a chance to grow up and be whatever I could be. To me, there's no one like you and I'm so thankful you are my mother. You passed on to me your gentle spirit, your generosity, your passion for life and your love. And I dont know of any greater gifts that anyone could receive."