In honor of Mother’s Day and the release of my new book With Love, Mom, I’m sharing the story I wrote about my mother and we’re giving away a $150 SpaFinder gift card! Share a sweet memory of your mom in the comments on this post for your chance to win!
Like Mother, Like Daughter
It’s been over 13 years since the spring day when my mother quietly left this world for the next, the year before our youngest daughter was born. Lily is the only one of our children who never knew her, if even for a short time. Mother passed away on my birthday, and it’s taken me years to reclaim the day as my own. For her, those two March 16ths, 38 years apart, began in pain and ended in joy: in the birth of her first child and in the presence of her Savior.
Calling your mom Mother sounds formal to some people; I don’t mean it that way. She preferred Mommy, and I called her that until the point when I must have thought I’d outgrown it. Mother wouldn’t have been Mama any more than she would have been Granny (her grandmother name was Gran); it just didn’t suit.
Mother was petite, in poor health for much of her life, and physically weak, but her mind was wise and strong. She didn’t understand why family members asked her advice in areas that didn’t involve her. It was because we respected her counsel. She liked to say, “No one person is important enough to make everyone around them miserable,” although we sometimes encountered people who thought they were that one person.
Mother didn’t waste much time in the kitchen. Her cooking didn’t extend far beyond Bisquick pancakes and boxed brownies, but she mastered her own, personal version of comfort food: little white powdered doughnuts warmed in the toaster oven until they bubbled; Dr Pepper boiled and then flavored with lemon juice; warm brownies drizzled with melted butter. My sister told me that after I left for college, Mother sometimes sat in her recliner and toasted marshmallows with a lighter. I admire such dedication in pursuit of the perfect snack. I came by my sweet tooth honestly.
As an adult, I’ve gotten tetanus shots because of unexpected encounters with a rusty nail and the bottom of a go-cart (that’s a story for another time), but my mother needed them—twice—because of squirrels. She attempted to rescue one from a dog’s mouth and also tried to touch one at a petting zoo. She loved animals, even if they didn’t always love her.
Last week a lady at church told me my mother would be proud of me and my family. She passed away before I started writing; missing her inspired me to start my blog. She knew seven of my eight children, but was gone before any of the girls entered their teens. I’ve missed her advice as they’ve grown. She would appreciate that her new great-grandson (likely the first of many grandchildren) is named after retired pitcher Greg Maddux; she sure did love the Braves.
Time and perspective continue to reveal my mother’s influence, the ways I’m like her and the ways I’m not. She hated the color orange; we never had a pillow, a splash of paint, or a piece of clothing in that shade. Mother was never healthy, and once had surgery in a hospital wing painted orange. I’m sure it was meant to be cheerful, but a happy color can’t overcome a painful association. I didn’t own anything orange in the 20 years I lived on my own as an adult while my mother lived; I never considered it. Now I have orange shirts and orange scarves, and a cute little orange owl decorates our house each fall. I love orange! At first it felt like a betrayal when I realized it, but her experience was not my own.
I believe words have power, and my mother knew it too. She hated the word snot but thought stuff was a good Bible word. (Genesis 45:20 cautions us, “Regard not your stuff.”) Facetious was one of her favorites. Winsome is one of mine. Her shelves overflowed with books, just like mine, and I have no doubt she would have read every word I write.
Although Mother didn’t question God’s good taste or the beauty of His creation, she thought hydrangeas were tacky and found the big, blue flowers offensive. The summer after she passed I planted a bush in my front yard, in her honor. Please don’t think I meant it in disrespect; it wasn’t until then that I realized I actually liked hydrangeas, much like the color orange.
I don’t prefer her soft pastel color palette, and I’ve never planted the signature red geraniums that filled the window boxes of my childhood home each spring. She never baked a cake or a pie, but I even make my own yogurt. I can’t imagine my mother exercising, even if her health permitted it, but I started running a few years ago and pull out my 30 Day Shred videos religiously each spring. She liked coffee; I drink tea. But in spite of our more obvious differences, in fundamentals my mother and I are much the same: stubbornly independent, unwilling to forsake our core values, intellectually curious, fiercely loyal to family.
I sometimes wonder if my kids listen to me, but I know from experience a mother’s words burrow deep in the hearts of her children. Whether we embrace or reject them, they’re always a part of us, speaking soft or loud in the voice of our conscience. I’m glad my mother raised me to think for myself and hold fast to my convictions, even the unpopular ones, and that occasionally I’m blessed to hear the words: “You remind me of your mother.”
Share a memory of your own for your chance to win!
Do you have a special memory of your mom? Share it in the comments on this post for your chance to win a $150 SpaFinder gift card!