I live 2,611 miles away from my Mom. Across one ocean and at least three major cities. It’s true – I Googled it. I feel the distance more each time a new holiday rolls around because in my family, we were always together on holidays. Every Mother’s Day, my three siblings and I could always expect to see a beautiful bouquet of roses on the kitchen table with a card addressed to “Bud” (that’s what Dad calls her). Her middle name is Rose. Valerie Rose.
Personality wise, Mom and I are different people. She tells me I get my “Type A-ness” from Dad. I need to have an orderly plan for things, but most of the time she is fine to go with the flow. She doesn’t need to be in charge, but when she does step into that seat, people listen. She can be stern and lay things out, but she can only go for so long without cracking a smile or a joke; she can’t stand for things to be serious for too long.
The part of me that loves to be around people is what I get from her. We always had a house full of people or a few friends over on the weekends, and even more often when softball season started again and the teams would come over for pizza and a dip in the pool. Mom is always the life of the party, so accommodating, and you can hear her laugh from a mile away.
I love talking to her for this reason, because I can always make her laugh. It fills me with a sweet confidence that no matter how uninteresting my life or interests seem to other people, Mom will always laugh with me, or at me… which is totally fine because we make fun of each other. I call her almost every day, and she answers the phone, “Jennyyyy!” I say, “Motherrrrr!” in varying degrees of tone. She asks, “What are you doing?” I say, “Oh… you know…” and she laughs.
The best memories of my growing up with my Mama hit me in small waves every day of my life. I feel them more now that I am a mom of two kids – as the quip goes, “Sometimes I open my mouth and my mother comes out.”
Here are a few things that make me smile when I think about her:
- She was always the “Room Mom” in my class at school. All the teachers knew her because she had made friends with them and the office ladies by my first day of Kindergarten.
- She always has nice handwriting; I would sit and practice my cursive so it would look as nice as hers. I’ve taken on my own style, but I can recognize her writing anywhere.
- She has the most professional phone voice; perfect pitch and enunciation. English was her second language.
- She was always at my softball games, cheering for me from the bleachers or from behind the snack bar when it was her turn to volunteer.
- She couldn’t keep a straight face when my Dad had to discipline us for burping or farting at the dinner table; she had to walk away, laughed until she cried, and came back with a red face.
- She sat me down to explain the “birds and the bees” with a full color picture book. She would have used a slide projector if we had one.
- She always let me have the front seat when I got old enough to express that car rides make me sick (says I get that from my Dad, too). She still lets me drive when I come into town.
- She’s always up for staying out later, even if she’s tired, if it means catching up with friends or playing a lively game of Pictionary or Mexican Trains.
- She loves to see Dad’s reaction when she sneaks him a little love pinch. He’ll jump and say, “Hey hey hey,” in a funny but gentle way.
- She still loves to hug us all tight when we come over, and it’s okay if we don’t let go right away.
I hope and pray to have similar memories with my kids, to have a closeness that lasts long into their own marriages, and to fiercely love them even when I can’t be with them. My Mom gave us the gift of herself and those memories will last a lifetime.