This year, I thought I’d write a letter to my mom on Mothers Day. I’m not sure I will really give it to her, but I hope to express in person many of the things I am writing here.
Dear Mom: Even though dear mom is a sweet, normal beginning, it still sounds so impersonal and bland to just start with such a scripted salutation. You always blushed when dad called you his sweet pea, but now it sounds so much more personal and appropriate than just a dear mom. He was such a big part of your life and of all our lives and I really miss him. But you are also a big part of my life and I’m so thankful I still have you.
This year has been one of many changes. Within eleven weeks we lost our beloved father and your beloved husband of sixty-six years. He teared up so many times in the past years thinking you would be the one to go first, as you were in such constant pain, fighting both cancer and fibromyalgia. He could hardly bear to think of living life without you. Who could have foreseen that he would go first and so quickly? Certainly none of us saw it coming!
As my sisters and I have been sorting through many of the possessions of a life snuffed out so quickly, I have been reminded again and again of your giving spirit. When there was very little money for new clothes, you sewed not only your own tailored suits, using remnants you found on clearance, but dresses for my sisters and I for musical performances and special occasions. We found many of those dresses you made, still stuffed in closets.
Even before we reached our middle school years, you taught us to sew our own clothes. It was no surprise when our home economic instructor gave us an A grade. Our abilities were far beyond our classmates as you had equipped us, not just in sewing, but in all matters of life and keeping a home.
Our house was usually the gathering place for most of the events and parties for both friends and groups. From church youth groups to neighborhood get-togethers to birthday slumber parties, you held the door wide open. It didn’t matter that we had hand-me-down furniture for many years. Most of my friends wanted to sit on the floor anyway. My best memories are of the laughter, the games and the music.
Oh yes, the music. You somehow convinced dad of the importance of music lessons, even when there was very little money. From the first upright piano you obtained—probably given free as it was fairly old, to the quarter-sized violin my sister started on, you scraped together the money for instruments and lessons. You were the one who laid on my bed, as that first upright was in my room until I could play something decent, listening to the repetition of my arpeggios, chords, inversions and scales, over and over. You wouldn’t let me stop until I had repeated them at least twenty times. For that, I’m extremely grateful as that repetition has served me well professionally for many years.
You were told by some music instructor you were tone deaf. Not for a second do I believe that, for there are very few truly in that tone-deaf camp. But your artistry definitely came out in other areas. The artistry you demonstrated in your painting and porcelain work astounded all who were able to see the figurines and pictures you created. Your attention to detail and color still astounds me when I look at the pieces you have given me. They are now treasured and on display in my home.
The years are going faster now. You are in a place where most of your needs are being met as dad is not here to care for you. Even though you’ve been diagnosed with Dementia, it has not taken full effect and for that I’m truly grateful. We can still enjoy lunches, celebrations, shopping and special events together. Much of the time your memory seems so very sharp and it’s as though time is standing still. But I know time is marching on and there are days when your memory is not as clear.
As I write this letter, I realize the next years will hold many more changes. Selfishly, I hope God ushers you into His arms before you no longer recognize my voice and my kisses on your face. It’s so difficult to see the loss of a mind and true talent. But know that I will be here for you to the very end, even if you no longer recognize me. You are my mother and my love for you has grown unexpectedly this year with the loss of dad and the drastic changes that have taken place for our whole family. I think I feel more love for you now than I ever have. Those feelings are somewhat surprising to me, but may be normal when experiencing loss.
I feel so fortunate I can celebrate you this year on Mother’s Day. Even though some of your decisions were not perfect, you were a wonderful mother and I appreciate more than ever the sacrifices you made for my sisters and I so we could have much more opportunity than you ever did. I hope to always honor your giving, hospitable spirit and give you the respect and love you deserve to the very end because you hold one of the greatest positions given to any woman in the world, that of mom. And you’re not just any mom, you’re my mom.