Saturday, May 7, 2011
Happy Mother's Day
Today I'd like to veer from the usual format of discussing our house to spend a moment praising two women who showed me how to make a home.
Mothers and Grandmothers come in as many personalities as all people do. Most children love their mothers, but not all children can admit that their mothers were very good to them or were good mothers in general. I point this out because I want to express just how thankful I have always been. My mother is one of the most exemplary, kind, gentle, giving, and downright *motherly* mothers I have ever met, heard of, or even read about. Everyone who meets her comments on her gentle spirit and gracefulness. She is truly the epitome of a beautiful heart.
Mom's High School graduation photo...my favorite picture of her.
Growing up, my mother was a stellar example of what a woman of grace can be. Every day she kept the house sparkling clean. She sat us down to a home cooked meal every single night of the week. When money was scarce, she made do with what she could, and the meals were no less healthy or flavorful. It is only now as an adult that I look back on this feat of quiet magnitude, and realize just how impressive it is. I regret every complaint I made about shepherd's pie or canned peas.
Mom and dad driving off after their wedding. I love mom's smile in this picture.
My mother has an absolutely beautiful singing voice. I was raised with the sound of her sweet and gentle soprano singing me lullabies at night (all the traditional songs, but my favorite was always "Morningtown Ride" by the Seekers). Her hands were gentle and lithe, and could soothe a scraped knee as easily as they sewed new dresses for us each Easter, or made dolls and teddy bears for us each Christmas.
Must have been a 4th of July. Mom probably made all our dresses here. I'm the little curly-haired baby in the middle.
Growing up, my dad worked as a high school math teacher. There were thin years and plentiful years. During some of the thin years, my mother would sew us homemade versions of popular toys. We all had homemade Cabbage Patch Kids, homemade Popples, homemade Pound Puppies. Each toy was worth so much more than the licensed original because they were made with so much love in each stitch.
My favorite gift my mother ever made for me was given to me when I was probably only eight or so. I had discovered Raggedy Anne books and dolls, and I was enamoured with her and her stories. For Christmas that year, mom made me a Raggedy Ann doll, complete with embroidered features and a candy heart. But in addition to this, she took a cassette tape, covered it in the same fabric as Anne's dress, and recorded herself reading me stories from a big Raggedy Anne treasury she bought. The doll was precious to me. It still lingers somewhere in my parents' house. But it was the tape that never left my sight. A couple of years ago when I realized that I had no back up to the tape at all, I had a friend transfer it to cd, and now I have a digital copy of my mother's beautiful and gentle voice reading me stories when I was a child, doing different voices for each character. (When my husband heard the tape, he exclaimed that my mom had missed her calling as a children's book on tape reader)
My mother continues to be an immense inspiration in my life. She raised me to love to clean and create and imagine. She also tried to raise me to love to cook, but that's one skill I'm still working on. She made me see that a strong and modern woman is not always the one in the board room or the sporting arena. Sometimes she is the one who shows quiet love, unending sacrifice, and constant gentleness. My mother is an inspiration to everyone who meets her, and I am so very, very blessed to have been born to her.
A semi-candid shot of mom at a tea we prepared together for Grandma last spring. I love this picture of her.
In fact, I am doubly blessed, because I was not only raised with one shining example of womanhood, but two. My grandmother on my father's side lived very closeby when I was growing up: a short bike ride would take me from our front door to hers. And I'm afraid she might be getting tired of all the times I've written to her about how incredibly inspirational she has always been to me.
Grandma. Love her hair in this picture!!
My Grandmother had two sons: my father, and my Uncle, David. David was born with severe Down Syndrome, to the point where he cannot communicate in regular words. And then when Grandma and Grandpa were married for several years, he was confined to a wheelchair. My Grandma raised two sons, one with Down Syndrome, and cared for a husband in a wheelchair. All while maintaining an adventurous, spirited personality and cheer.
Grandma with my dad.
Dad and my Uncle David.
Grandma still lives up near Mansfield where I was raised, even though she has now moved into a new condo. My Uncle lives with her and she takes care of him every day. She worked as a secretary for her church for many years, but recently retired due to health problems. She gets tired, she gets overwhelmed sometimes. But she still knows how to laugh. She still jokes about going sky diving and hopping a ride on my dad's motorcycle. She is both endlessly kind and endlessly strong. She is the powerful matriarch of our family, the peak of the pyramid.
Truly the monarch!!
All of us...her sons and her daughter-in-law, her granddaughters and grandsons-in-law, and her great grandchildren...love her with gratitude and a bit of awe. She has touched the lives of so many people, and continues to do so every day.
Grandma with me and David, after I ran a 5k last spring.
Grandma and Papa Super (my Grandpa) at David's high school graduation
Grandma at the tea mom and I prepared for her last spring. I love the dainty pinky.
I am blessed to have found a husband I love so much. I am blessed to have found a house that has so quickly become a home. But it all started with the blessing of having been raised in such a loving, caring family. Thank you, Mom and Grandma, for being such a huge part of anything that ever happened to me that was good.