High-waisted blue jean mom shorts, with a paisley print halter top and a kerchief around her head, that’s my first memory of my mom. She used to sing Eric Clapton’s “Lay Down Sally” to me. She actually called me her “Sally”, she once told me because I was sassy and she equated that with the name “Sally”.
Those were the days of 1977, with marigold shag carpets, disco was queen, summertime in the South was a water sprinkler with polka-dotted bikinis. When I hear Seals and Croft’s “Summer Breeze”, it immediately takes me back to that first memory of my mother as she painted the living room. The windows were open and the humid breeze played a game of tag with the sheer curtains.
As I sit here today, I’ve tried to go back and recall as many memories as possible of my mom. When she got married, she had this long jet black hair. She was thin (5’11”, 105 pounds) and looked like Cher (from the old Sonny and Cher days). She was glamorous (still is, but in a more classy and sophisticated way). She used to paint my toe nails, curl my hair on soft rollers at night, let me wear her glasses and heels. We used to color princesses (Snow White was my favorite) and read books. She’s always had a poker face, and when you crossed or defied her, be prepared to pay. She’s fiercely loyal and protective of those she holds dear. She’s my hero, my mentor, and the mother I hope I have the ability to be one once as good as.
My mother taught me a lot growing up. She taught me the value of feminism without being liberal and losing her conservative roots. She taught me to fight for what I believe it, but to pick my battles. She taught me that not all opinions deserve to be heard and that I should turn a deaf ear to those who disagree. She told me the importance of my Southern roots, the necessity of acting like a lady. She encouraged me to grow and to follow my dreams.
As I grew older, I asked my mother to tell me what some of her fears were for her children. Most mothers would say they feared death or kidnapping or injury, but not my mother. Perhaps she thought we would never have to worry about anything like that. What she did say sticks with me today. For me, her biggest fear was I would set my goals so high that I may never attain them and thereby tearing myself apart. I have a very self-deprecating personality and my mother feared that would be my downfall. For my brother, she worried that he was so eager to see the good in everyone that he would be taken or snookered (as he grew older).
During the years my younger brother fought leukemia, I watched my mother suffer. She never did it in front of Brian (my brother), nor did she do it much in front of me. It saddened me to watch her, but inspired me as well. I prayed (and continue to pray) that I’ll never have to experience the pain she had when my brother took his last breath. I worried that she would leave me and sink into a pit of despair, but I quickly realized that would never happen. She loved my brother fiercely, but her love for me was just as strong although different.
Today and every day, I’m thankful for the wonderful woman God has given me for a mother. In the nearly 39 years she’s been my mother, I couldn’t be more fortunate, more proud of her accomplishments, nor more loved by anyone. My mother is a Godly woman, raised a Christian and still strong within her Christian roots. She is my strength and my best friend.
I started thinking this morning about my Granny, my mother’s mom, and I put myself in my mother’s shoes. My granny died shortly before I turned seven and my mother 35. I can’t imagine not having this wonderful creature to talk to on the phone everyday. I can’t imagine Christmases or Sunday dinners without her. When my mother was my age, she’d been without a mom for almost four years. How sad!
My mother has helped mold me into the woman and mother I am today. She’s instilled in me a love that’s greater than anything I could have imagined. She continues to teach me and guide me, to love me and strengthen me. I just hope that one day, my boys will look back and at least think about me in this way. I hope that I’ll have done the job for them that my mother did for me. Thank you, Mom!
Be thankful for the moms in this world, for without them we would not be.