I Miss My Mom — Still

I wrote this note more than 6 years ago. And it’s still true.

As I see all the notes from my friends on FB to their moms, I’m living in a bittersweet moment. My mom died last year — tragic in and of itself to her children; although nothing momentous in the grand scheme of things.

What surprised me the most was how her death changed things. It was (and is) as if the axis of my world shifted; oh, so slightly and almost imperceptably. Nothing would ever be the same again.

Momma didn’t have an “estate” to speak of. As a single mother with not much more than a high school education, she did well to feed and clothe us as we grew up. And even then, the smallest of luxuries were few and far between. But the lessons she taught us far surpass any tangible thing she could have bequeathed.

I’m sharing with you from my heart of hearts some things my momma taught us.

  1. Momma taught us to be grateful. When we had nothing (and sometimes, less than nothing), she told us that life was our gift. No matter how bad things were, momma was able to find something good in it. At the time, it drove us nuts that she was such a “Pollyanna”, but I can see now that she was making a point — LIFE is good.
  2. Momma taught us to make the most of everything. I remember one Easter when the other kids were getting huge baskets of stuffed animals and chocolate. Momma made precious egg “people” out of eggs she had decorated and on which she had drawn beautiful faces. She made hair from yarn and hats from scraps of fabric. We loved them as if they had been store-bought.
  3. Momma taught us to laugh and sing. I remember watching “The Carol Burnett Show” together and laughing so hard we could barely catch our breath.Our favorite scene was Eunice and her mother playing a game and Eunice shouting, “It’s a SEVEN!”.(you would have to see the scene to fully appreciate the moment). We laughed until we cried watching that show. Later on, she and I would use that line on the phone to recall the laughter. In church, I remember listening to my momma singing, putting her heart and soul into the words. She taught me more about music than any teacher I ever had.
  4. Momma taught us that bad things happen to good people. We learned early on that just because you are a good person doesn’t mean you won’t struggle, or have fear in your heart, or pain in your body or mind. What separates the good people from the bad people is how we respond to the things that happen to us.
  5. Momma taught us that beauty, fun and entertainment can be found anywhere. Growing up “economically challenged” in a suburb of Columbus, OH, we had little opportunity to travel or to even afford to go to the zoo. Momma encouraged us to open our eyes, ears, and mind and to BE in the moment. We had to walk to the store, even for groceries — and I will never forget one freezing winter when we were walking home — my feet were numb, and I was feeling very sorry for myself carrying those bags of groceries. Momma got me to look up and see the tiny flakes of snow falling and how beautiful they were. She started singing, and we sang “White Christmas” all the way home. It’s a precious memory to me now, and I can’t help but tear up whenever I hear that song, remembering that cold winter walk.
  6. Momma taught us that family matters. Momma was always there. No matter how she might have felt about our life choices, career choices, or anything else we had going on in our lives — she always made it a point to let us know that her love for us was never an issue. Sadly, I didn’t fully appreciate the fact that one day my momma wouldn’t be there for me to call or spend time with. To my own shame, I let entirely too much time lapse between calls and visits. I didn’t make time when I got older to send cards or flowers for no reason, and barely remembered some years (when I was a single mom) to send her birthday or Christmas gifts. There’s not much I woudn’t give up now to have another chance to be a better daughter.
  7. Finally — momma taught us that when it’s all said and done, you only have your character when you die. Momma was a woman of character. She was faithful to her family, her church, and her job. She was thankful for her life, and grateful for those around her.

For me, Mother’s day isn’t about flowers, candy or gifts — although I won’t complain about them — :).Mother’s day is about making sure you look your mom in the eye and let her know that you LOVE her. Let her know that you finally get what she tried to teach you as a child, and you appreciate her sacrifices, large and small, on your behalf.

For those of you whose mothers are still alive — remember that LIFE IS SHORT. No matter how you feel about your mom today — when she is gone, your world will shift. Don’t miss the opportunity to tell your mom you love her, and what she means to you. Every day, I miss my momma. I hope my life is a legacy to who she was and what she hoped for us.

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