It's that special day again. Mothers everywhere are being honored for, well, various things. Not everyone had a perfect mother in the traditional sense, but everyone has a mother. If you've grown up to be a healthy adult you can appreciate the great things and the lessons learned from the less than great things. I, for one, am fortunate to have a mother still living at the ripe age of almost 83. She's a little crazy, but I'll prove to you that crazy mothers are leaders too.
Mama taught me important things. Because of how we grew up, a life that was not apple pie perfect, we developed skills that would end up serving us well as adults.She taught us how to have the heart and passion of a leader.
Our Mama raised us. She worked most of the time, and we were latchkey kids all through our school years. We didn't know that term back then, nor did we feel we were unusual, although I suppose we were in the 50's and 60's. Looking back I realize many other mothers were at home every day, sending the children off to school with kisses and a packed lunch, then welcoming them back in the afternoon with a hug and a snack. That was not our scenario, and I recognize now how that lifestyle helped many children grow up to be loving, responsible adults. It helped us to be resilient and independent.
Although Mama was not always there with cookies and hugs, she gave us something sturdy and strong. We weren't coddled or treated as if we hung the moon. She worked a lot and at the end of some days she was headed to a second job. It may be because of this that we have never felt we are owed anything.
My oldest brother and I fought like wildcats. I was the oldest, so I could overtake him for awhile, but that didn't last long. I'm really surprised Mama felt we were safe at home and would not kill each other. We survived those years, living proof that things can turn out okay. Because of this we all know how to fight for what we believe in.
Mama was a role model for a hardy work ethic, treating the underdog with kindness, loving people( many of whom did not deserve her love), and being a problem solver. She would spank our behinds in a heartbeat and made sure we learned good manners. She drove many a mile with us fighting in the back seat and her swiping at us and telling us to be quiet or else! And, she wasn't beyond stopping at a rest area to carry out her threat. Because of her, my brothers and I are tender-hearted people with a pretty tough hide.
My brothers and I know how to work; that's what we do, and we do it well. Whether jobs were physically or mentally taxing or both, we gave our employers or clients the best we had to give, and we worked at things we really cared about. We're dependable and dedicated; we show up, and we know how to fix things and solve problems. My brothers can build anything, fix anything, and they have many friends who will tell you they are good, decent, generous men who care about others and show it. One word of advice: don't mess with any of us or you will get something you won't forget. Mama taught us to give our all.
We lost my brother Joey last summer. It has been the most heartbreaking thing to happen in our lives as a family. He was only 57. Mama thought she had experienced hurt before that, but nothing can touch losing a child. Then, 9 months later she lost her long time companion and best friend, Richard. She lives in a small community where people truly care about her, and some even call her Mama Lou or Granny and check on her regularly. That is because she shows how much she is interested in them, and we learned that from observing her.
Mama wasn't apple pie, and she probably can't bake one. Most of her layer cakes stand crooked, but she makes a killer pound cake. After she finally retired after nearly 60 years of working, she cooked, canned, made jelly and all those things she didn't have time to do for so many years. While my brother, Bart, was building his house she prepared meals almost every day and delivered to the workers for over a year. She's written several books, all honoring people or places that were meaningful in her life. She's smart, and I think we got some of that too.
Because of Mama we all got the "good dancer" gene. My family used to go to dances together often. We know how to boogie, and I miss that a lot. With Joey gone, it wouldn't be the same, but I'm thinking we should give it a go anyway. Joey would smile down on us, especially if Mama could still shake a leg.
Our family is far from being classic or perfect, and we can't deny a little crazy, but, thankfully, we don't have a single member who wants to be a reality TV show star. It's like Julia Sugarbaker said, "This is the south, and we're proud of our crazy people. We don't hide them up in the attic. We bring them right down to the living room and show 'em off. See, nobody in the south ever asks you if you have crazy people in your family, they just ask what side they're on." Mama made sure we recognize a crazy person when we see one.
When I tell you that my Mama is sturdy and strong, believe it. She hurts deep, she cries hard, and she keeps moving along, and after awhile she laughs again. She loves humor, laughing and the people who spread it. Crazy mothers are leaders too, and that's what our Mama passed on to us. I am eternally grateful for her gift. Happy Mother's Day, Mama!