Archive for May, 2020

Thoughts on Mother’s Day

Sunday, May 10th, 2020

The photo above says more than anyone can possibly imagine. Shortly after getting divorced, I had to move in with my parents to get back on my feet. My dog, Theo, had to come along with me. The year was 2007, and I felt as if the world was caving in around me. Actually, it was. I felt like a child, with no direction, again. I had to return to a place of familiarity for constant support. In my case, my mother has given support to me from the day I was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic in 1975 until today, as I sit at her kitchen table and try to look after her and my father. In some small way, I’m trying to give back in return for all of the things that have been done for me for the last 50 years.

Well, in that photo above, my mother was helping Theo. He was aging and his time was coming to an end. In 2007, after learning of my divorce, Mom was diagnosed with cancer. I had never endured any pain like the pain I was feeling at the time. Unfortunately, looking back on it, I couldn’t focus on anything other than myself. It was hard to get from one day to the next. I didn’t pass the test for giving when I had nothing inside to give. Instead, Mom made sure she bent her ear toward me and listened to my endless babble, all while battling cancer. She offered words of encouragement and held me when I could barely hold on to myself — just as she had done before I could walk. Theo was her rock, and I was her helpless child again. As she had always done, she put her child before herself.

As a child, I never realized how dependent I was on her for good health, both mentally and physically. She supplied me with the things I needed, and I always thought that was just what moms did. I didn’t realize the amount of care, support and unconditional love a great mother gives to her children. I’ve come to realize that the path of a child’s life can be greatly influenced by his mother between childbirth and his 10th birthday. The foundations are set and the small details are instilled. I’m often amazed when I see a successful adult who came out of an environment where there was no support or solid foundation. My life has been made much easier by having a mother who has always understood what being a mom is all about.

These times we are currently experiencing with the coronavirus crisis bring me back to my childhood. She taught me to always wash my hands. She taught me to cover my mouth when I sneezed or coughed. She taught me to be kind to other people. I learned to respect others, even if I don’t agree with their viewpoints. I learned to listen before speaking. I was taught about the value of money and how to manage money when I had it. I learned that working was essential to being able to pay bills and going on vacation. I was taught that I needed to work and not rely on her or my father to have them support me. I learned that I should never use my disease as an excuse to not do something. I learned that good behavior and strong work ethic should be rewarded. I was taught to stick up for myself and believe in my cause. I learned that I should not follow the masses if I feel pressure from others to do so. Instead, I should be a leader and stand up for myself and others when others try to bully people — whether it’s in the workplace or in a casual setting.

My mom taught me to read and use my creative imagination. She never tried to force me in any direction with my career or schoolwork. She sat with me and truly became my inside support system as I shared my highs and lows. Unlike my brother and sister, who call Mom a lot, I prefer to sit with her. I need the closeness that a phone call doesn’t supply. Since she retired, I visit her almost every day after work to sit down and talk. I enjoy the half hour or hour I get as often as I can get it. We might not even talk, but I value the time sitting in the same room with her. These times bring me back to all of the years she pushed me around in the shopping cart when I was young. It also brings me back to all of the times she was my nurse without a nursing degree. She gave me my daily injections and always made sure I followed the plan to stay healthy, things I’ll be forever grateful for.

When I was about 6 years old, she taught me that it was important to dress up for important events. She also showed me that it was ok to just be myself, choosing to bring me shopping with her and allowing me to wear my dirty play pants to the store. She would reward me with a dollar for doing a chore and told me not to waste it. I would save my money to get something that I worked toward. Every now and then, I would ride my bike to the country store a mile from the house and spend my dollar on a pack of baseball cards in hopes of getting one of my favorite Yankees in it. She encouraged me to reward myself for my work.

Over the years, my siblings and I have always joked about which one of us is Mom’s favorite child. Stepping away and looking at it seriously, we are all her favorite. She has watched all of us grow into the children we have become, and she has supported all of us in the way that we need the support.

Recognizing that each child requires different care is a special talent. There are no two people who are molded the same. She has always found what works for each one of us and used that to show her care and love. Nobody could have ever been more successful than her. That is how I know that all of us share a part of being her favorite child. She loves all of us the same and it’s obvious. Well, but then again, we have my cousin Carrie’s thoughts on it:

As I’ve marched through life and made all sorts of mistakes, I consider myself lucky to know that Mom has always supported my decisions. She has allowed me to figure things out in my own way, even when I was a child. She saw the importance of setting up a checking account for me when I was 16 years old and showing me how to balance my checkbook. It’s the little thing that get overlooked by far too many people. Have you every wondered how you learned the basic survival skills? I don’t have to wonder. Mom, I’m thankful for everything you have done for me. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think I’m the luckiest son in the world, and that is because of you. When I see some of my friends struggle, I often wish you could have been their mother. I know you would find a way to help them, and they wouldn’t realize they were struggling. It’s a gift that goes unseen. I hope you realize that today, on your day, my siblings and I are thankful for being raised by the most caring, loving and supportive mother in the world. We could never repay you for the gifts you have given us — the gift of living good lives. Even as a 50-year-old man, I still feel like you’re pushing me around in the shopping car as we go up and down the rows in Zayres and Joy’s department stores. I hope you feel the same.