I only knew her four and a half years. She taught me to say shush instead of shut up because “It sounded much nicer.” That’s how most memories of my mom are, just momentary glimpses into the kind of person she was and wanted me to become. She died in July of 1985 from cancer. Four and a half years together means we celebrated five Mothers Days as mother and daughter. I don’t remember any of those celebrations but sometimes we learn more acutely by what we don’t remember in life than by what we do. Here’s what I know to be true…
Those closest to our heart will remember what and how we loved. Achievements, ambitions, failures, big moments, routine days all take a back seat to loving well those who matter most to us. One of my last clear memories of my mom alive was her correcting me and dishing out a “and I mean it” spanking from her sick bed in our suburban home. I don’t recall what I did exactly, but I do remember knowing full well I had gone too far. I have three daughters and my youngest is almost five, so I know the only reason she leaned over and used her precious energy on her ornery little girl was because loving me well meant wanting the best for me in the long run. Having a mom unable to get out of bed was zero excuse for poor behavior; not having my mom for the rest of my life would be no excuse for poor behavior either. She sent that message loud and clear. Sometimes a parent needs to do the hard thing to teach their kids the right thing. I’m guessing it literally did hurt her more than it hurt me. We’ll have a good laugh about it in heaven some day. In truth, it’s made me a better parent. She did the hardest thing by setting aside her needs for mine in that moment, and I can do hard things too. I pray I too can set aside my own needs and comforts for others. I pray my girls remember me as a mom who loved them enough to tell them the truth and expect their best even when it’s tough.
My mom knew she wasn’t going to be around to see my brother and me grow up. I don’t know how we spent our final Mothers Day together because so many of those days were filled with doctors, hospitals, and eventually hospice but I know she loved being a mom and she loved us well until the day she died. I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow missing and missing out on having her here, but I know her love is being passed on through me to my own kids and that’s a beautiful way God allows me to experience her each day.
My Mother’s Day gift to myself (besides that blue purse I’ve been eyeing) is to remember that I had a mom who loved me well and do the same for my own girls. I can’t do everything, I definitely can’t do anything perfect, but I can love them in the hard and easy places of life like only their mom can.
Happy Mother’s Day