On this Mother's Day, I am compelled to post a tribute to my mother. One might not think that strange, but a bit of history is in order. My mother was a very strong, assertive, depressed and opinionated woman. I was her only child. Although she was not likely aware, I felt that she believed I was born only to make her happy. I grew up feeling that mother love was entirely selfish. I spent all of my life trying to disentangle myself from her grasp. When I was in college, my father had the audacity to die. I then felt even more enmeshed in her emotional prison. This tribute is not meant to be negative, but knowing this scenario is important to understand the gifts and abilities which she gave to me.
Through countless hours of counseling/therapy, I have examined my life and hers. Of course, I can only infer various aspects of her early life based on comments, pictures and known family history. She was born in 1909 and thus was a young adult in the depression years. Her mother became bed confined when she was a teenager, and she was expected to take over most of the household responsibilities. She was able to go to college for one year, but then had to come back home to take care of the family so her brothers could leave. My understanding of her life is that anything she wanted, was postponed for the needs of everyone else and that she had to work and fight hard for the things that she accomplished. Even as I was growing up, at least every month or two she/we drove eight hours one way to stay with her mother and help take care of her.
Over the last few years, as I have been the age she was during my childhood, I have come to see things from a much different point of view. During the age that I was which correlates to my earlier years, I was deeply depressed, therefore, I feel that she likely was depressed in a similar manner.
That realization changes EVERYTHING.
We live in a different day and overall set of opportunities. I could have the depression treated--she did not. Those things were just not discussed and there was not good treatment. To consider all the ways that she survived and flourished leaves me with utmost respect and deep admiration. In fact, I was the main beneficiary of all of her work and life. Things that I have inherited or learned from her include a stubborn, "can-do" spirit; the ability to make or do anything that I set my mind to; a love of beauty, and a love and respect for God.
In spite of the duties at home, she graduated from SMU, magna cum laude in math. She had hours toward a Masters degree, but married instead of finishing. She helped my dad provide me with a good home, clothing, food and love for all of my childhood and youth. She was extremely smart and passed that trait on to me. I recall the time I came home with a C in math. Boy was she mad...she was a math teacher. When she realized that she needed to help me with understanding math, I was the best after that. In fact, she was an excellent teacher. She had the ability to help anyone understand algebra. Not many people can claim that.
My church group was planning a trip to Europe. I have no idea how she did it, but she made that trip possible for me. She wanted me to have as much exposure to culture and learning possible. When I wanted to change directions in college, her comment was "I knew that you were unhappy and I am not surprised." She supported me in everything that I have ever wanted to do. Well, that is with one exception: I wanted to be a foreign missionary. She had a huge fit about me leaving her alone and going overseas for any length of time. That had been my goal since childhood. Must not have been my true calling, because I was not about to go against her. Another time, in my depression, I considered closing the garage door and not turning off the car engine. She is the one that kept me from following through each time I drove home. I just could not give her that kind of sorrow. Today, I am so glad to be alive. She helped me once again. The list of other gifts is long, including piano and dance lessons, cars, piano, down payment for home, etc.
As I watched her age, her strong spirit was further revealed. She loved to read, but when she could no longer see, she listened to audiobooks. She was able to crochet by feel for a long time, but when she could not do that, she participated in other activities where she lived. When she sensed that her time on Earth was coming to an end, she went through all her "stuff" and gave things away, so that I would not have to do it myself. Her life is a great example of an extraordinary life. She achieved greatness, not because of fame or fortune, but because of faithfulness and perseverance in all of the events which came into her life. I am thankful that I was one of those events.