My mom was born August 18, 1930, the eldest of five children. At three years old, her eighty-year-old father died. Her widowed, much younger mother remarried a kind man who my mom often spoke of with fondness. But when Mom was eleven years old, her mother died from complications of producing a child for this man. Though he tried hard to keep his brood of six together, times being what they were in this country, the man reluctantly made a difficult choice. Mom said he cried when the siblings were separated. They went to various relatives, Mom going to live with a harsh aunt and uncle. Each had their own stories to share of what they endured during those years.
So my mom never really knew her mother and she received no maternal affections from her aunt. But God gave Mom a gift. As natural as breathing, this woman knew how to love. She devoted her life to her husband, her children, her grandchildren with the depth of selfless sacrifice you only read about. Yet I, and my older brother and sister, lived each day sheltered in the security of her love. We always knew she supported us--even when we were wrong (not always the wisest thing, perhaps!). But her faithfulness and loyalty was a thing we never doubted. Whenever life dealt us a blow we felt too big to handle, we went to Mom. Like the reassurance of a concrete wall in a hurricane, she stood steadfast. Not once--ever--did she let us down.
We grew up, moved away, had our own families. But Mom was only a phone call away. And when she felt inclined to call one of her kids, as soon as she finished speaking, she'd call up the others. She shared equally, and generously.
For 46 years she and Dad were married. He died on March 11, 1996, right in the same bedroom of the old homestead where the two had spent their wedding night. Poor Mom had to watch the man she loved slip away, telling him, "I can't live without you." After his funeral, she worked to put her affairs in order. She bought more life insurance, went to the lawyer and drew up papers to leave that home in equal parts to her children. Then, on April 11, 1996, like she told my dad she couldn't live without him, it came true. She passed away in her sleep in the same bedroom where she'd had to say good-bye to him.
Though setting aside one day in the year is a good tradition to nationally recognize and honor mothers, I have Mother's Day at any given moment (and Father's Day too, I'd like to add). My mom is always close. All I have to do is remember her smile or the touch of her rough, work-calloused hand and I can imagine myself again as a little girl when I'd crawl to her and Daddy's bed after a nightmare. She'd throw aside the blanket and open her arms where I'd snuggle against her chest. Sighing, I'd fall back to sleep, knowing nothing would hurt me with Mommy there.
Her phone calls are silent now, but her love lives on with all the memories she gave me. Mommy is still near, tucked forever inside my heart.