Lessons Mom taught me

My mother as a young woman

Here at Mama’s Empty Nest we’re preparing for our middle daughter’s wedding next week.  I’m sure my readers may be growing tired of reading about it,  but with all three of our adult children saying “I Do’s” this year, weddings have consumed my life in this season.

And while in the throes of going bridal, there’s been a little empty spot in my heart and my bride-to-be daughter’s.

Both of her grandmas will be missing on daughter’s special day.   My mother-in-law passed away almost 14 years ago and we lost my mother to cancer six months after that.

Today would have been my mother’s 93rd birthday.   I’m re-posting a blog I wrote a year ago about my mom, my children’s beloved maternal grandmother, in honor of her birthday.

I imagine my mother was an ultimate surprise when she was born to my grandparents after 19 years of marriage and no children.   She surely was the apple of their eye as their only child.

She certainly was the apple of mine.  Washington Irving said it well when he wrote:

“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.”

I loved and admired my mother so much, it’s difficult to express in words.  I watched her with awe and respect, especially in her last year of life as she bravely and without complaint battled the cancer that was taking her body captive.

Mom was one of the strongest, most determined people I’ve ever met; she had a feisty spirit and she was fun (ask any of her grandchildren!). She loved God, her family, and her home.  She was happiest when she was whipping up goodies in the kitchen and watching her loved ones enjoy her home cooking.

Crafts, sewing projects, quilting, crocheting – all right up her alley.  Any ideas to enhance her home or anything she could make with her own hands to give as a gift caught her attention  – just one of the ways she demonstrated her love.  She especially enjoyed planting flowers in her garden and watching her six grandchildren flower as well.

When I was a squirrelly teenager, my mother suffered through menopause.  The combination wasn’t exactly compatible so we butted heads often.  Sometimes, she just made me so mad, I would stomp up the stairs to my room and cry my eyes out.  And I know I made her just as angry.  But not once, did we ever stop loving one another.

As an adult, I realized first-hand the stresses my mom endured.  And I sadly recall wounding my mom so badly one time during my teenage years.  After yet another ridiculous battle of words I waged with her, I had shouted, “You don’t love me and you never did!”

I’ve never forgotten the look of horror on her face as she recoiled from my venomous words.  She seemed to wilt as she slowly sat down and tears quietly streamed down her cheeks.

I don’t believe I have ever regretted words more than those ugly ones I flung at her that day.   The power to reduce my mother to tears did not give me satisfaction, instead it made me realize what a spoiled brat I was being and I never hurled hurtful words like that to my mother again!

But through those trying years, Mom never stopped encouraging me, giving me good advice when I needed it, and loving me.  She urged me to be the first person in our family to attend college.

Without admonition, she expected me to try my hardest at whatever I endeavored.  I remember many late summer nights, swaying gently back and forth side by side on the front porch swing, having conversations with Mom about boyfriends, what college life would be like, and dreaming about my future.

Later, I would make my mother cry again.  When I married my true love and we loaded our belongings into a U-Haul trailer to move half-way across the country, my mother wept.  And every time we visited my parents from our home away from home, she would once again cry each time we said goodbye.

My Mom was always my rock.  She was the one I turned to for help, to vent, to rail against the injustices of my world because I knew she was always on my side.  And she always knew what to say to pick me up, dust me off, and send me back on my way.

She provided the strong arms of comfort into which I collapsed with hysterical tears in an airport ladies room after sending my military husband off to a foreign land for a year’s tour of duty.   Pregnant with our first child and saying goodbye to my husband, who would miss the birth of that child, was the most heart-wrenching task I had ever endured.

And it was Mom, who held me tight, rocked me in her arms even while she cried with me, and whispered in my ear, “You’ve got to think about this new little life you’re carrying inside of you.  You’ve got to be strong for the baby.”

I didn’t want to be strong.   But I learned to be.  And that’s one of the lessons I learned from my mother who portrayed strength every day, even as she lay dying all those years later.

Today in my book of Opportunity, I miss my mother terribly. But I can almost hear her whisper, “You’ve got to think about your family, your children.   You’ve got to be strong for them now.” And so I muster up the fortitude to carry me through this exciting yet exhausting year of marrying off my offspring and to endure watching them totally fly out of this empty nest.

Thanks, Mom for teaching me about the commitment of motherhood and the love of family.  I hope I’ve instilled those same lessons in your granddaughters.

Happy Birthday, Mom.  Give Jesus a hug for me.

“I miss thee, my Mother!  Thy image is still

The deepest impressed on my heart.” ~Eliza Cook

Copyright ©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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16 responses

  1. You are such a good Mama. Every once in a while I find myself missing my own Grandma. Lifting you all up in prayers this week, Hubby also! Best Wishes 🙂

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  2. Oh, this was simply the most beautiful tribute to your mother. And how appropriate to be thinking of her at this time of weddings and children moving on with their lives. How fortunate you were to have her and how fortunate we are to hear your story.

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    • Thank you ever so kindly for your thoughtful comment, Dor. I can’t help but think my mother would be very excited for all of these weddings. She loved events like this and would have enjoyed all the preparations. Daughter will have a special table at the wedding in memory of her grandparents.

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  3. What a loving and wise mother, grandmother and homemaker your mother was. Thank you for sharing your story.
    I love that your daughter will have a special table in memory of her grandparents. Be sure the photographer gets a picture of that so it will find a place in the album. I know, I know…so many details to remember now…a list of pictures the photographer must get. Good luck, God bless you and your family as the countdown is surely at 10-9-8 by now.

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    • She was all that; she didn’t work outside of home after she married my father, but she worked tirelessly in our home. She truly loved homemaking, cooking, baking, cleaning, gardening, etc. (I kinda wish I’d gotten that ‘gene’ from her!) 😉 Thank you for your good wishes. We’re into the details and when we met with the photographer the other day, neither my daughter nor I remembered to add that shot of the memory table to the list, so thank you for reminding me! Do you want to come help be the wedding coordinator that day? I could sure use you. 🙂

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  4. Oh, I’m teary-eyed after reading that….! As I was reading, I smiled several times at the comparisons to my own mom. My teen years were rough on both of us, too, and I regret all the tears I caused her, but like your mom, she never stopped loving me. Oh, and the porch swing: how many hours did we spend in that swing…? (Which I still have stored away in my garage) Your Mom sounds like a wonderful person, and I can imagine that your heart is heavy, thinking of how much she would enjoy being here for your children’s weddings. But, you do know that she’s with you in spirit!
    And I can’t imagine the surprise her parents had after 19 childless years!

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    • I’m glad to know I wasn’t the only one who made her mother cry. I have a porch swing on my porch (not the one from my childhood home though) and I often sit out there and think of my mom. Wanna come sit with me and we can share our stories? Oh, yes, my mother was a very big surprise to my grandparents especially after all those years of marriage. They just naturally assumed they couldn’t have children and back in the day, you just accepted that and moved on as there was no medical recourse for such a thing. My mom told me that when my grandmother announced that she was pregnant, my grandpa jokingly said, “I guess that’s the night I should have slept in the barn!” 😀

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  5. Oh, Mama’s, I’m crying! What an amazing tribute to an amazing woman, who I know is at the epicenter of your thoughts as you prepare for the enormous undertaking of wedding three of your children off in one year. She does sound like a rock, and I am happy you can hear her thoughts and voice in your mind.

    My grandmother lived with my family since I was born. She was like a second mother to me. She was alive, but very ill, for my wedding, and she’d passed on before my first anniversary. Five years later, when my sister married, her memory colored every aspect of the planning, the dreaming, the ceremony, she was with us even though she wasn’t. I wish for you that same central knowledge of your mother’s presence; I can tell you already feel it.

    You have written a beautiful, loving note. I think you should print it out and save it! Your mother sounds remarkable, and I so enjoyed reading your story.

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