A couple of years ago one of my friends turned 40 years old so she decided to do a tribute to 40 of the women in her life who had impacted her the most. I loved this idea! This year I’ll be turning 49 so each week from my birthday today until when I turn 50 in a year (and I’ll give myself a couple of weeks for an intermission), I’m going to pay tribute to 50 women or groups of women who have shaped me into the woman I am today! These are in no particular order and these are by no means the only women who have made an impact on me….. These are the women that as I sit here today, making a list…. I have very fond feelings about the gifts they have given me….. there are so many others but I’ll start with this fifty I randomly wrote down today.
I haven’t quite figured out the podcast thing (though I’m getting close… I think) so for now, it will just be a blog and hopefully soon, it will become a podcast.
#1 – My mom…..
So I said in no particular order but I’m pretty sure I have to start with my mom or save her for the “last the best of all the game” …I’ve thought about saving her for last because it’s really hard for me to put into words what my mom means to me. Yet, as hard as it is to put into words just how important she is to me, I’ll give it my best…. I’m not saving her for last because ……. …..well….. she was first!!
Yep, Mom was the first woman in my life. From the very beginning we were close and she knew we’d be the best of friends.
Mom got pregnant with me before she was married. In those days, this was a big deal and could cause quite a bit of shame and though we haven’t talked much about that I’m sure those nine months were not easy for her. At the first of her pregnancy with me, my grandparents tried to convince mom to place me for adoption. Mom tells me that she went along with them for a few days until she just couldn’t take the thought of that anymore. She faced her parents with a firm resolve that she was going to keep her baby and that was the end of that discussion. So on January 28th, 1972 I would meet her for the first time in this world and we would start a family together. She and dad gave it a go for about a minute (I think it was right around a year or so and then that part ended ….. Though I wasn’t really aware of any of it.)
What I do remember are the stories she would tell me about when we were on our own. Mom would go to work and leave me with the babysitter. She told me how hard it was to be away from me. She told me how she loved that my babysitter would put my hair in little pigtails and dress me up cute for when she got home from work. She told me how important it was that we were our own little family. She said that she loved to make us a meal every night and even though it was only the two of us, we would sit down and have dinner together. It wasn’t too many years before she met and married my 2nd dad. And soon after that…. I would have more brothers and sisters than I would know what to do with. We had started out on our own but we grew into the most amazing, fabulous family and I am BLESSED to be the big sister of all of them!!
My mom was always very healthy and she taught us all to be healthy and conscious about the food we were eating. She loved growing her own vegetables in a huge garden and we were all involved in the planting, weeding and harvesting of the garden….whether we wanted to be involved or not. We would also can fruit, make applesauce and homemade grape juice…. it was a regular “Little House On the Prairie” growing up.
Mom also taught me how to serve the people around me as she was always making dinner for someone in need or lending a helping hand to a friend. She has always been and continues to be a beautiful example of service. This is a gift, I am so grateful she taught me. Later in my life I would learn that not everyone is taught this so I don’t take it for granted any more.
Mom has always been religious or spiritual throughout my life. When I was in my twenties she made a comment that was slightly contrasting to the popular thought of our childhood church in which we were raised. When she made this comment it kind of rocked my world. I realized I didn’t know if I believed in the church we were raised in or if I believed in whatever my mom believed in…. And for the first time I began to question what I really believed. This would be the first step of a life long journey…. One that I now love and it continues to evolve all the time….. But at the time I remember being very unsure of everything in my life because I held so tightly to what she believed. As we both took different paths to discover our own personal Spiritual Truths, we have always loved to come back together and share the new found wisdom we found to be true for ourselves. She has always been interested in what I was learning and I am always curious about her new found paths of enlightenment.
At some point we grew out of our parent-child relationship and became sisters. Now, she’ll always be my mom. I’ll always love her as my mom….. But there is something very special when a relationship evolves into the deeper friendship level of “sister”….. At least, it is for me.
When I went through a divorce over a decade ago I was in a pretty bad space. Mom could tell that I wasn’t doing well emotionally or mentally. I had never told anyone at that time but I had very carefully picked out a good place to end my life and get myself out of the darkness that consumed me. I knew my kids would be sad but I thought it would be easier for them to grieve me being gone than having to live with the ongoing terrible things they were to young to witness and experience. I was a broken shell of a woman, so deep in depression and although I did my best to hide it, mom could tell something was wrong….. So she moved down to live with me. At first, the best thing about having her there was that she would cook for me so I would have to eat. I had been so depressed that the weeks the kids weren’t with me, I would stay in bed and not even get up to eat. With mom there, that couldn’t happen. She made good food too. Healthy, yummy food and just that little change, started to bring my mental fortitude back a little.
She also wanted to go on walks all the time and explore. I started getting outside more and getting some exercise. Exploring the beauty of Oregon with her, helped me discover just how healing nature could be. This is where she taught me to listen to the trees. This is where I learned to listen….. with my heart.
Mom also loved going shopping at this little Thrift Store called Red, White and Blue. She would come home with ten pairs of shoes that were only a dollar each and the cutest outfits. I loved watching her excitement and since we were the same size….. I reaped some huge rewards with her new wardrobe.
We read books together also and discussed the philosophical treasures we were discovering. I remember one in particular was “The Shack”. We sat on my little futon, in my tiny duplex and read it out loud, taking turns reading. When mom fell asleep I kept reading…. I read all through the night. Many times during the book I cried and I was so glad that mom was laying there next to me, her hand on my leg as a comfort as I sobbed. When I finished the book in the morning and mom woke up, I couldn’t stand that she hadn’t heard it and I immediately started to read it to her from the part she could remember. I read while she made us breakfast, I read it out loud to her all that morning. We cried together in many parts and when it was done we both chattered like young girls of the insights we had felt. So many things in that book changed me. Changed the way I looked at myself. Changed the way I felt about God. Changed the way I wanted to live my life. YES!! Changed the way I wanted to LIVE!!!! I felt like this was a new beginning and since mom was there from MY beginning…. I love that she was here for this new beginning.
Mom has literally saved my life many times over the 49 years that I’ve been on this planet….. Another time was when I was very young. I came down with pneumonia after she and I were in a car accident in Sardine Canyon on icy roads in the winter. The doctors didn’t think I would make it. Mom had been injured in the car accident but that didn’t stop her from doing what she had to do to make sure I would get better. She sat under a “steam tent” with me for days…. Weeks maybe…playing games to entertain me as my lungs healed. The doctors told her this was the only way they knew how to make me better. So she put aside her aches and pains and focused on healing her little girl. I did get better with her right by my side.
When my 1st dad died a couple of years ago, my mom came down to support me at the celebration of his life. She ended up doing a road trip to Portland, OR with me that week to visit my son Jake who was starting quarterback his senior year and wasn’t able to come down for his grandpa’s celebration. I was in a lot grief from losing my dad so suddenly. I was angry and I took a lot of this out on my mom. I knew it wasn’t fair, I could see myself being a jerk but I was so out of control with my bouncing emotions that I seemed to have lost any sense of kindness. I was talking to a friend about this at the time. She suggested that maybe my mom was the person I felt was the safest and I had inadvertently used her as my punching bag for the anger that was so foreign to me. This felt true in my heart and I’m not sure I have sufficiently apologized for my bad behavior but my mom has just kept right on loving me even through my shadow behavior.
Mom and I recently spent some time together in Hawaii. I am in awe of how amazing this woman really is. She is still able to hike around like she is twenty years old and keeps up with all us “kids” and the grand-kiddos too. She is full of life. She sees the magic in this beautiful world and I’m pretty sure that’s where the magical child within me comes from. She always adds a fabulous sprinkle of just the right “spice of life” to whatever conversation or activity this is going on. While we were in Hawaii she had an alarm set on her phone and when it went off she would say out loud, “God Bless America.” This was the sweetest little prayer that my mama was sending out to our beautiful nation…. And it was so important to her that she learned how to set an alarm on her phone so she could pray for all of “US” every day. Sometimes we (the kids) think she is a little corny or quirky but somehow we become just like her, and for me…. Nothing could be better. When I first heard that little alarm…. I didn’t think much of it. As the days passed and we all began to know what the alarm was for, we would all join in saying “God Bless America” when we heard the alarm. On one adventure across the Island we happened to be in Volcanoes National Park when the alarm went off. We had just done a little hike to the rim of a crater to watch the sunset…. The kiddos had skipped on ahead and it was me, mom and Kaz (one of my fabulous sisters) gazing out across the vastness of the crater in awe of the dipping sun, when the alarm went off. We all said in unison, “God Bless America” then we put our arms around each, swayed back and forth as we sang Lee Greenwood’s song, “I’m proud to be an American”. In this moment…. With my sister and mom, I felt all my ancestors who were also proud to be Americans and had fought in so many ways to make this country so beautiful. This was one of those LIFE HIGHLIGHT moments I will always remember and again, this woman, my mama….. was the gift of inspiration that blessed us with the opportunity to bless our beautiful nation with our very own little song of prayer on the rim of a volcano, in Hawaiian paradise with plenty of “Aloha Spirit” glittering in the air…. we all felt the O’Hana (family) of that moment.
I love thinking back about all these little stories I have from my childhood which she has shared with me…. And I love the stories I have of her by my side through all the other times in my life.
There are times I think my mom and I are very different and there are times I think we are exactly the same. Either way…. I am so lucky to have chosen her to be my mama and even luckier to now walk with her as a sister. I love you mom….. Thank you for giving me life, saving my life and sharing this life with me.
Cheers to doing this life together for 49 years….. And cheers to many more years of memories with you!!!
Because of you….. I have been changed, for good.