In My Life, I loved You More
For my mother, who always knew what I needed but always let me figure it out for myself.
I remember so many things from my childhood, but some of the warmest, most wonderful and profound memories are of time spent with you.
I can still smell the chlorine and feel the warmth of your tanned skin as I cuddled close after a day spent at the pool as I drifted off for an afternoon nap.
I cherish the memory of you bringing me an Albert Porta’s cheeseburger, fries and a chocolate shake to Field Day instead of the crustless sandwiches other moms brought to their children.
It makes me smile to think of the days when I ran late for junior high and missed carpool and you took me in the Bronco (in your pajamas) and drove me right up to the front door!
I love that my friends were always welcome in our home. Even the ones you didn’t like very much.
I am so thankful you were there to teach me about art and history and music. I cannot listen to Chopin without hearing your voice intermingled with the notes.
I am humbled that you always trusted me and you let me be exactly who I wanted to be.
I am blessed you understood that much education is learned outside of a classroom and that you were always willing to be the teacher.
I thank my lucky stars you never me made me turn a stray animal away.
I recall with so much affection the snow days when you, grinning, handed me a giant bowl and asked me to ‘fill it all the way up’ with fresh snow because you knew I couldn’t wait to have snow ice cream.
I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of anyone (other than my boys) than the moment you told me you had made the Dean’s List when we were both freshmen in college.
I treasure the memories of art exhibits, traveling Broadway shows, libraries, museums, zoos, aquariums, historical sites and other afternoons and evenings spent in the pursuit of the arts and humanities. You encouraged me to understand politics and to join the discussion. You also fostered in me a freeness and happiness in uncharted travel and the unplanned adventure.
I am beyond fortunate to have had a mother who embraced fashion and whose sense of chic both in decorating and clothing was years ahead of the crowd and something I admired and aspired to in my own life.
I remember Saturday afternoons when the late sun of autumn would peep in the kitchen window and I would watch you make loaves of French bread and then how you taught me to delicately roll it in the cornmeal. I can still hear the crackle of the cornmeal as we cut the piping hot bread and ate it with warm butter.
I adore the memories of you picking me up from Camp Mitchell and our rides down the mountain spent in animated conversation as I filled you in about C.S. Lewis and Aslan and the Wardrobe and God at work in my life. I smile too at the very distant memory of Kevin coming with you and if I strain my eyes just long enough I can still see his smile upon seeing me.
I can still call the Hogs louder than almost anyone and I would never part with the memories of tailgating (the best part), cheering on the Razorbacks and precious time spent in the company of good friends late into the evening with you and Daddy.
I love how my life was filled with such diverse and fine people- Versa, Angelo, Emmy and Al. Sitting by the fire at Emmy’s as she told us tales of her homeland or in the kitchen with Dad bugging Al as he made schnitzel… I can still imagine me at the kitchen counter mesmerized as Versa peeled the potatoes in one long string while she snuck me shortbread cookies and told me about her father. I remember the darkness of Angelo’s bar, the grit of the floor and his joy at watching me belly up to the bar. I remember too his rough laugh and the thick ribbons of cigar smoke as he blew magical smoke rings big enough for me to step through! I am still startled by the freshness of such memories and the priceless treasure they hold.
When I first returned home from the hospital with newborn Jack I remember being so afraid when I fell ill and you just tucked me in and kissed my forehead and told me not to worry, that you and Jack would be fine- and you were. Just like that. (Dickens trying to smother Jack in his Moses’ basket notwithstanding.)
When I was ten, I remember you hearing about John Lennon being shot while watching the 5 o’clock news. I saw you move slowly toward the television from the kitchen where you were preparing supper and watched as tears filled your eyes. I remember you reminding me he sang for The Beatles and I felt profound sadness for the loss. You opened Rubber Soul and put in on the record player and we listened as the lyrics to “Looking through You’ held a meaning different than before. ‘You’re thinking of me, the same old way, you were above me, but not today. The only difference is you’re down there- I’m looking through you, and you’re nowhere.’ You said there would never be another like him…and you know? You were right.
My love of the cinema is directly rooted in your indulging me on Saturday matinee’s to feel the force and fall in love with Han Solo, to get down to the ‘Bear Necessities’, to watch Superman save Lois over and over again, or to watch Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn make movie magic. You always let me get “butter” on the popcorn even though you hated it and we were never late.
Lately, I have been pondering how absolutely magical those moments were after all the boys had been born and we were without a home and you took us in. I know there moments that tried your patience (and mine) but you were and have always been dedicated to the boys and me. You and Daddy both have. The joy and happiness from that time still radiates through the house. This is a sacred feeling.
There will never be enough time to tell you what having you both has meant to me. It’s everything. The relationship you have with the boys is so important to them- and me. God doesn’t plan our lives, but he does have a hand, I believe, in where we are meant to be and I’ve no doubt at all you were meant to be my mother and I, your child.
I know I do not visit enough…or tell you enough or show you enough but you are the mother I would have wished for if had all the wishes in the universe and I thank God everyday for the chance to be your daughter.
“I wondered if my smile was as big as hers. Maybe as big. But not as beautiful.”
― Benjamin Alire Sáenz
I love you, Mom. Happy Happy Mother’s Day!