-A daily checkin, even if it’s to say nothing. The daily hello and goodbye are a well established norm.
-Going to the grocery store. There are always moments when I find myself staring at the shelves of endless food and I can’t for the life of me remember what ingredient I needed so badly to make that dish that I learned from you.
-Speaking of dishes, your macaroni salad. Your slaw. Your chicken pot pie. Your salisbury steaks. Your salad. Your regular, normal salad that includes nothing but lettuce and green pepper and onion-even if Dwight doesn’t like it. No matter how hard I try, it will never taste the same as yours. I will keep trying, but I will always look forward to eating your food more than I will ever look forward to eating my own.
-Updates on my babies. Your grandbabies. Believe it or not, not everyone wants to hang on to my every word about my two girls, but you do. You always listen to their stories, their questions, their tales of their day, their silly laughs, and their songs. You are enthralled with their dance moves, their play habits, and their little traits that make them so unique. You notice them, you love them, and you love every story that I share.
-Your lessons and lectures. At some point in a past life, you were a preacher, and a good one. You have words that are profound, words that I, of course, shrug off right now, but words that always hold meaning in some way. You know what you are talking about. You know life. The problem is, I think I know it too, so my “knowledge” is often what I go with but in the end, it’s your wisdom that wins. You are right. You are always right, and it may not click right away, but it will at some point.
-Your stories. I remember sitting at the dinner table asking “Will you tell me a story?” I didn’t care which one, but I remember always wanting to hear about you. Imagining you as a child my age put me in awe. You would respond by asking “What kind of story?” I would tell you “One when you were little. Tell me about…” and then it would begin. Remembering on the spot was difficult for you, as it would be for anyone, but you tried to indulge me in anyway that you could.
-All of the memories. You hold the parts of our past. The Christmas when you told the story about Granny and Grandpa, a story I had never heard before, was my favorite Christmas. What a love story. What a beautiful way that God worked to bring two gentle, intelligent, hardworking, and loyal people together. I can’t tell the story the way you did, and I have tried. My words get caught in my throat because the meaning of the story hits me so deep in my heart that I can’t get it out. You hold those profound memories that I love to hear about and learn from.
-Your love of music. Do you want to know what I listen to at work when I am stressed or when I need to focus? Do you want to know what I listen to when I jog? Do you want to know what I listen to when I’m cooking dinner and the girls are coloring with me in the kitchen? 50’s and 60’s blues. Do you want to know where I heard this music first? From you. We would sing the words or we would watch the movies with the songs that I now know by heart. I like the catchy tunes of today as well, but my heart belongs in the 50’s and 60’s. What did I ask for when I turned 16 years old? The greatest hits CD of Elvis. Classic.
-Respect. It was three in the morning after I closed one night at Blockbuster before cell phones were a necessity. My coworkers and I were chatting in the parking lot and I had no idea that it was that late. You were there to remind me. You rode up in the parking lot and all it took was that one look, and I knew I was in for it. My coworkers knew it as well, but it never happened again, did it? You’ve always modeled and expected a level of respect that my brothers and I have always tried to abide by and follow. I think we did a pretty good job, and you were never hesitant to provide those necessary reminders.
-Listening. You created an emotional human being. Slightly dramatic as well. My calls to you are more frequent than I would like depicting the latest drama, but you always take the time to listen. You never judge. You just listen. You offer your thoughts and you always emphasize your support, and I am immediately at home and comforted in your shade. You offer the retreat, and I always find solace in you.
-Side seat driving. I know to look to the left. I know to look to the right. I have had a license for 15 years now with only one wreck (the deer hit me!) and one ticket, and still you always point out important facts that are obvious to all passengers…including the driver.
-Endless worrying. You’ll never stop, will you? And I finally understand. My heart catches in my throat almost everyday when the phone rings and my children are not with me. My heart tightens when I drop them off at daycare, and a bump on the head sends me in a tizzy. I will forever worry about the microscopic things that occur everyday just like you. Just. Like. You. The positive is that I will always have someone worrying about me too. Thinking about me. Asking me about my day, my meeting, my children, my life. Your endless worrying helps me plan for yard sales, because you’re right, it might rain. At times, the worrying is very predictable and those around you poke fun at your expense. However, it’s always nice to know that you are thought about. That I am thought about. And I promise I won’t stand too close to the rail on a cruise ship.
-Long Island Iced Tea. You taught me the love for my signature drink. If a LIT is ordered, it’s been a long day. And every time, it takes me back to moments with you because I know it’s your signature as well. And it’s both of our go to’s when our day has been too long.
-The love of reading. I remember dad reading to me at night, but I also remember you with a book in hand in between the endless chores that you took on during my childhood. I remember a book seemed to go with you and with Granny throughout the house because you never knew when you might get a moment in between three children, cooking, cleaning, taxi driving, a full time job, and dad. I hope my girls see me doing the same. I try to read to them as often as I can because I desperately want them to love reading as much as I do. This was a love you helped to cultivate, and it has taught me so many things.
-The important things. Yes, grades were important but I was never pushed to the point that I felt inadequate if I didn’t bring home an A as long as I was respectful to the teachers and doing my best. Sports were also important, but it was okay if I didn’t start or if I wasn’t the captain as long as I tried. Friends were important, and it was important to know their parents and their family if sleepovers or parties were going to happen. Presents were fun at holidays, but the important part was being with family. Church, while we were frequently late or even absent altogether, was upheld, valued, and important to the point that if we missed some Sundays, we would read the scripture together at the house. Weekends were fun to celebrate, but it was important to clean the house first in order to truly relax (I still struggle with this). And Sundays. Sundays at Granny’s with Bill and Leah’s hotdogs and hamburgers (with extra pickles) sitting in the TV room with the TV off. That was important. That is what I remember as important. Many things were valued, but it was very clear what was most important in the end.
-An imagination. My goodness, what an active one I had as a child. Even at times when it appeared morbid by writing stories where someone always died, my imagination was always encouraged. Building forts with my blankets and my barbies in the woods–actually, you probably didn’t know I did that because there are snakes and ticks in the woods and my blankets would get dirty! Reading books, playing pretend with my barbies and ponies, running in the yard pretending the puppies were my children, loving on cat after cat…after cat after cat after cat after cat. My imagination soared with your help.
-Sweet tea. My brothers and I will more than likely always have fresh sweet tea in the fridge because of you.
There are many ways that I need you. There are many things that I am thankful for because of you. There are so many things you have taught me, and for those reasons, I will always need you. This has been on my heart and my mind lately, and I don’t think you realize how often I think of you or how important you are to me. Of course you know on some level. You are my mom. You will always and forever be one of the most important people in my life. You are the person who has taught me to love, forgive, grow, keep going, reflect, instruct, respond, learn, read, write, speak, connect, observe, value, comply, overlook, pray, walk away, defend, relax, compliment, laugh, cry, greet, and mourn. There are so many things I still need to learn from you. There are so many things that I need to call you for. The phone calls in the middle of a grocery aisle hold more meaning to me than you will ever realize, and it’s such an amazing comfort to know that you are always there with an answer to all of my questions.
Thank you. Thank you for always being there. Thank you for being the perfect example of a mother. Thank you for teaching me valuable lessons that I am still learning from today. Thank you for the reasons above and so many more left unsaid. There are many ways that I need you. God gave me the most incredible gift by giving me you as a mom.