04 May 2010

Happy Birthday Mom!

It was 68 years ago today that the union of Hector and Thelma was blessed with their fifth child and second daughter, Rachel Ruth Elise. This child grew up to be my mother, whom I reluctantly share with my brother, Kevin. Just as I did a tribute to my father on his birthday, I must do a tribute to my mother. And just as I did not tell his story, I won’t tell her full story, but I would like to share some of what this amazing woman means to me.

My mom was very sickly as a child and that, unfortunately, has followed her throughout her life. Asthma and bronchitis plagued her childhood, so her brothers and sister always protected and fawned over her. Delicate and “girly-girl” all her life, she grew up kind of spoiled. That followed her into adulthood. (She’s still spoiled – this time, I’m the culprit behind the carnage.) Before she was 30 years, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Although benign, this tumor sat on her optic nerve and for years was misdiagnosed. It was 1970 when all this happened – before laser surgery and MRI imagining. My mother went through this surgery in a semi-awake stage. When the tumor was finally removed, it was the size of a small grapefruit – or my father’s balled up fist. As a child, I was fascinated by the scar that ran from the middle of her head to the nape of her neck – and several times, used the picture of the tumor (yes, we have a picture of it) as my “show and tell” piece at school. It has been decades since I’ve asked to see the scar, and it has been a while since I pulled out the picture to look at the miracle God wrought in her life. My parents divorced shortly after that. They were young (I never realized HOW young until I turned the age they were when they divorced) – maybe going through such a traumatic event was too much – I don’t know. (Again, that’s their story, not mine). My mom, who’d always been a “stay at home” mom, suddenly had to go to work. It was dramatic for all of us, but she did it and Kevin and I survived. She remarried – it wasn’t a good marriage, so she eventually divorced again. In 1989, seven years after I left New York for college, my mom followed me back home to Atlanta. Thirteen years ago, I bought a house, Mom moved in and we have been “roommates” ever since. It has been an interesting journey as mother and daughter. But here we are.

I am NOTHING like my mother. I have never been married. I don’t have children. I finished college, where she dropped out of nursing school to get married and have kids. I have bounced around a few times in my career. My mom held three jobs her entire working career. Once she got a job, she stayed there until she moved away from the city where she was employed. I am adventurous with my food choices – my mom could eat the same three or four meals every week and be happy. I will venture to foreign countries armed with my Fodor’s travel guide and a map – my mom rarely goes to the grocery story by herself (although, since her retirement a few years ago, she’s gotten better). My mother has a love of family and a commitment to all who are related to her that amazes me. I tend to love people, including my family, with a long-handled spoon approach. I don’t really allow a lot of people to get too close to me. My mom is a hugger and very “touchy feely”. I am not – long-handled spoon syndrome. I am more of an extrovert who never meets a stranger, whereas my mom sits back and waits for people to approach her. Yeah, I am NOTHING like my mother.

I am EVERYTHING like my mother. We look alike. We walk alike. We both LOOOOOVE shoes, although I just grew into (and admitted) my shoe fetish a few years ago – and our tastes in shoes are vastly different. We both have freckles. We both love the color green. We both can cook meals that will make you slap your momma. We both are loyal friends, even when the friendship doesn’t necessarily deserve the loyalty shown. We both love older people and the wisdom they impart. We both have a talent for singing that we are hiding under a bushel. We have the same deep abiding love of God (although I claim to be His “favorite” and she just laughs when I say it). We both set a goal to read through the Bible this year – she is on track, I’ve fallen a little behind. We both want to be ready to meet Jesus when He returns. Yeah, I am EVERYTHING like my mother.

Right before my mother went into her brain surgery that long ago day in 1970, after the elders from the church anointed her, she prayed a prayer. In that prayer, she asked the Lord to heal her IF she was the person He wanted to raise her two children. If someone else could do a better job, she would trust Him to see about their care. God saw fit to spare her life and almost 46 years later, I have to say she did a marvelous job. We don’t always see eye to eye – we are more different than we are alike, but I have never had a more supportive or loving cheerleader, and the woman that I am today is because of her. Thank you Mom and happy happy birthday.

No comments: