Saturday, May 7, 2016

a letter to mom

Mothers Day 2016 - I should've been nicer...

So if your mother has passed away, can she still see you and hear your thoughts? Or maybe she haunts you? I think mine does.

Dear Mom,

Growing up, I did not appreciate you, or even like you at times. But now you pop into my head often, mostly while typing medical reports when one of your diagnoses comes up. (No, doc, I don't need to quit smoking because I don't inhale.) I think of you when seeing vintage shows with things like TV dinners, Elvis, or old movies where everyone was smoking. I think of you often, wishing I had been a better daughter. After having two boys you wanted a little girl more than anything and finally got me - ungrateful kid.

You were tough, strong willed (Sergeant Mom). You had to overcome hardships in your early life. You didn’t get to graduate high school because your father made you go to work. You worked at countless sewing factories. You enlisted into the Army and made parachutes at Fort Benning during WWII. You lived in Japan during The Occupation. You were a rock, hard but supportive, and the foundation of our family. Dad was very laid back and calm, you were opposites. I always said I take after dad, but I hope there is some of you in there, too.

I remember you drinking and smoking and cussing, real warm and fuzzy memories :). You were a larger than life character, loved to laugh and dance and have a good time. Everyone always loved you and I often wondered why, my perspective was selfish and clouded. Just because you were not the ideal of mom in my head (June Cleaver), I shouldn't have held that against you.

Some of the things I learned from you I took into my own adulthood, like not to smoke or drink or cuss... like not caring what other people think, like being yourself, and like making the most of life wherever you end up, making every stop along the way into a home (army life - you always said you moved 21 times in 20 years).

I think of how you turned that 4 room shack into a home for us when we moved to the mountains. Living on Army retirement of $250 a month, you used skills learned long ago like planting a garden and canning vegetables and raising chickens. We sold strawberries and eggs for money to live on. You made all of my clothes, including prom dresses, and taught me to do the same. And I never wanted for anything. You took us to Sunday School and church wherever we were living, often knocking heads with the church ladies who tried to run everything :)

I think of you when I am sewing or crocheting or knitting, how you taught me those skills, and now I am passing those down to my family. I wonder if you know that, are you watching?

When my own kids and grandkids are so nice to me and love me, I think how devastating it would be if they thought of me or treated me like I did you - hurrying to move away, hardly ever visiting, never calling.

I was selfish to think that I had to put up with you as a mother, (it was all about me) but it was the other way around, you had to put up with me, the ungrateful daughter. But you loved me anyway unconditionally, a lesson I need to learn.

Over the years I had a hard time finding greeting cards that were not mushy, now I know that you would have loved one of those traditional Mother's Day cards.

I didn't show you love when you were alive, and now I regret it, you just wanted a little girl, someone to teach all the girl stuff to, and now that I am using your skills to teach my grandkids, I just wanted to thank you. 

Maybe I am writing this now because I have finally matured enough? (Or maybe I don't want you to haunt me)... either way it is overdue - I love you mom, thanks for everything. Happy Mother's Day !


Toni Born said...

Thank you! Sounds like some of our childhood was alike....except my mom never smoked. Her idea of cussing was...good garden seed or great garbage...where did she get those?? But thank you for sharing. It is funny how we don't appreciate how much our moms sacrificed until they are gone. beautifully written!

sharon gudger said...

I was always a little scared of your "Sergeant Mom", yet I was facinated with her. I often wished I could be more of a free spirit- dancing to the music, not caring who was watching. I envied you having a stay at home Mom who made you beautiful dresses, taught you knitting, canned wonderful jam. I loved your front porch and wonderful old farm house- as I remember it- with gigantic rooms and original pine flooring. I have no doubt you made your Mom proud- straight A's, elite school clubs, taking the better path of a teen never in trouble- and your perfect friends:). Your Mom saw you use the marvelous skills she passed on to you - I remember you seeing our cheerleading outfits - remember that Yellow Jacket outfit! I observed your life, your home, as being so rich.

Such a special tribute to your Mom. I'm sure she's watching- and smiling.