You have been my biggest cheerleader and my biggest critic. Growing up you used to say things like "nobody can make you feel guilty except yourself". Didn't Eleanor Roosevelt say that first? :-)
Mom, you have supported me and loved me. Through thick and thin. As I grew, in the name of independence, though I have done things to hurt you deeply, you have always forgiven me and kept your heart and your arms open wide.
When I left you that June day in 1982, after my wedding was over, I did not understand why you were heartbroken. But, now that I'm the mother of two adult daughters and one teen, I understand.
The love between a mother and a daughter is deep and wide, full of sorrow, happiness, joy and pain. And, that day you were saying goodbye to your little girl.
Now that I am fifty, older and wiser, I hope, you are my very, very best friend.
You say you made many mistakes and have asked myself and my siblings for forgiveness, it is really we who should ask you to forgive us for not appreciating the level of your love and devotion to us.
It was easy to joke with you mom. It was easy to make you the "fall guy". You were always so willing to be the butt of the jokes just so you could see us laugh.
Yes, you WERE a drill sergeant growing up, but, after all, weren't you preparing us for life which is the biggest boot camp experience there is?
My first memories of you growing up was of an Irish wonder woman who could do anything. Cleaning, cooking, washing, working fulltime, caring for your aging mother ~ honestly, don't know how you did it! I was going to buy you a wonder woman mug for your coffee today for mother's day, but you always, always feel guilty when we spend money on you...
I remember that you made my dollies clothes in the same material you would make my sundresses. Mom, I want to cry because I never, never knew that we were so poor you had to make those dresses. You made me feel so special when I was a little girl.
And, now I am crying, because you were always there for me. You stood up to the neighborhood mother who called you to rat me out for not picking up the toys in her basement with her kids. You knew that I would be obedient and do anything for an adult out of respect and so you lost a friendship due to that belief in me.
Mom, when I as a little girl, I could see the sun in your eyes when you smiled. I could see the strongest woman in the world when you took care of myself and Bill and Patti when we were sick. When you took care of Mommom and Aunty Katherine and any other relative that needed help. I wanted to grow up to be just like you.
Part of me does not want to write this next part, but it needs to be done. When you retired, you put aside your own plans to finally relax and take a little bit of time for yourself and dad. Instead, you came to my house to watch me take chemotherapy and fight for my life that summer. You chased after our little Becca at age two and helped me to eat when I was too sick to eat. You made sure Dad, Sam, Lindsey and Rachel knew I would be "okay." Even when you were probably dying a little inside of yourself every day.
You ran the household, and kept the family together when I went with Dad and Sam for my chemotherapy sessions, endless tests and blood tests.
You spent those early years of retirement watching me suffer and not knowing if I would live or die, without a word, serving and loving and praying.
Mom, I can only imagine. What it would be like to see my own child go through cancer. And, to this day you have never complained or talked about your own pain through it. Only mine, and Sam's and the girls and Dads.
I don't know what I would do without you, Mom. I really, really don't.
Yet, I know this life has been hard on you and you continue to bring joy, healing and hope to so many lives. With that wicked Irish humor, you have made our lives so much better, so much richer and so blessed.
Thank you for being the most wonderful mother God could give a girl like me. Here's to years of silliness, laughter and fun with my best mom! Mom, you are amazing.
Love you, Kelly