I only spent 10 years with my mom & then she went with Jesus. As I reflect on Mother's Day this year I think about how foundational those 10 years were in making me who I am today.
While I wouldn't have described mom as the "fun" parent (hmmm, is that where I get it from?), I smile at a lot of sweet memories. Mom liked getting dressed up on dates with Dad & would have me critique her dresses & jewelry. She taught me the word "sexy" (in relation to the 80's style side-pony- yikes!) & I thought, "Why is mom teaching me dirty words?" Like most people, I loved the smell of fresh laundry, & I remember bringing her to tears as my brother Steve & I emptied the entire linen closet of clean blankets & sheets in order to make our beloved forts. I loved listening to her play the piano- Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata was my favorite. I remember her thin hands & beautiful fingernails, natural, never painted. I remember her talking "for hours" to friends on our old dial-up wall phone. Mom tucked me in the night I told her I wanted to follow Jesus & she helped me pray & figure out if I knew what that meant. Of all the life lessons learned from my mother, however, the one that sticks out the most to me is her heart for others & how important it was for her to teach that to me.
Back when Cabbage Patch dolls were all the rage my parents took me looking for one for an upcoming Birthday or Christmas present. I quickly fell in love with a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl that I knew I would call Leslie. Instead, mom asked what I thought about the "pretty brunette doll with brown eyes?" "Ugly," I told her. "I don't want that one. I want this one." Wouldn't you know that when the holiday came around & I opened my present it was the ugly brunette doll! Why would my parents spend all that money on a Cabbage Patch doll that I hated? I couldn't believe her. I didn't like the doll & made that known. After taking scissors to her hair, lipstick to her clothes & eventually nail polish to her face I thought, "That will show my mother!" She'll feel bad & buy me the one I wanted. I don't remember mom ever saying a word to me. But she was now my doll & I had to live with her. Was I able to look beyond the exterior & still love her?
A second strong memory of my mom is her setting up play dates with the "unwanted" kids. D was an un-popular girls with freckles, red hair, crooked teeth & often smelled like pee. She lived in a rough apartment in a bad part of town & didn't have many if any friends. I remember my mom inviting D to come over & play with me (against my will). I didn't want to be associated with her! And you know what? D & I had a fun time after all! After that I did my best to ignore what other kids said was or wasn't popular. I be-friended who I wanted. D & I never became great friends but thru her & a few other children mom taught me it was okay to stand out & love the lonely, no matter their looks or status.
Those two memories show the heart of my mother & I believe she helped train my heart to see people in need of extra care & to pursue them. Thank you mom for helping me look beyond the exterior of people & things. I didn't grow up rich or poor. We lived simply, out in the country, & made the most of what we had. I'm thankful my mom taught me to love all.