What we learned and why we loved you, Mom

Today would have been my mother’s 59th birthday, it’s the 3rd one she’s spent in Heaven. Two years, five months, and 11 days ago she left this earth very unexpectedly and way too soon. But just like any other great person in history, her legacy lives on. To honor her on her birthday, I thought I would write a tribute to the things I learned from her and loved about her. More importantly, she didn’t do these things just for me, she shared her love and learning with all who knew her….

  • Her character was unquestionable. Never in my life did I hear anyone question my mother’s integrity, never once did I question it. We loved her honesty. We learned your character is the only thing you can take with you wherever you go.
  • She was consistent. She was the same yesterday, today, tomorrow. Always smiling, always dependable, almost always a calm voice of reason. I swing a little wider than mom did, but I learned the value of being who you are and sticking with it.You almost always know what to expect from me.
  • She was dependable. Do what you say you are going to do. Sometimes more, never less. If my mom told you she was going to do something, you could count it done with utmost quality. If she knew she couldn’t get it done, she wouldn’t commit to doing it.
  • She could forgive big, and she forgave often. Many times and many people screwed my mom over in major ways. I didn’t know about it because she told it, I knew about it because I either witnessed it or the offender told on themselves. Many people probably thought they got away with it without her even noticing, they were most likely wrong. My mom lived “turning the other cheek” like no other human being I’ve ever met. She completely trusted God would deal with her offenders on how they had wronged her, and she let it go. All the festering and worrying was left with the offender. The times I would talk to her about something, she would just say it wasn’t worth letting it steal her joy. I’m still working on learning this….
  • She showed people how much she loved them. When it comes to your family, you can never show them too much. I was 35 years old still sitting in my mother’s lap. She would kiss me right square in the mouth. If she saw something she thought I or the kids would like, she’d send it my way. If it was your birthday, she’d bake you a cake or your favorite pie. Always doing little things to let you know you were special.
  • She was your biggest cheerleader. She never sported a mini-skirt and pompoms, but she was an excellent encourager. She convinced me I could do anything I wanted to do. I kinda wish I hadn’t believed my mom so much on that one. But, she convinced me I could achieve anything I set my mind to. I’ve had some pretty crazy ideas along the way, and some things I probably should have given up on. But, because my mom believed in me, I believed in me. There are countless people that tell me the stories of what they accomplished thanks to my mom’s encouragement.
  • She was a great listener. Mom was always one to listen more than she spoke. She always had time to hear your story or concern. And, mom won many arguments without ever saying a word.
  • She taught us the importance of hard work. She started out as a minimum wage employee and worked her way up to plant manager. There wasn’t a job she couldn’t or was afraid to do. She would go in early, she would stay late. I begged my mom to retire as soon as I started having kids. She could have financially, but she believed in hard work. I offered to meet her salary to come watch my kids a few days a week, but she wanted to earn her own way. She never made a dollar she didn’t work her ass off for. All of her employees respected her and talk about what a great boss she was. I think it is why I love working so much. I was blessed to be able to stay home with my kids when they were little, but I truly find joy in being at work.
  • She was a great neighbor. If someone died, my mom was the one walking the street with an envelope collecting money for flowers and organizing meals. If you were new to the ‘hood there was cake coming your way. If you were out of town, your mail and plants would be taken care of. You didn’t even have to ask her to do it, she just did, because that is what good neighbors do.
  • She taught me to enjoy being in a neighborhood and doing life with other families. Enjoy sitting in the front yard with the neighbors, and watch the kids grow up together playing in the street. As I sit in our cul-de-sac and back yard, I can’t help but think back to the good ‘ole days on Ridgeland Drive. All the dads with beer in hand, moms laughing and talking, kids running amuck riding 4 wheelers, jumping on trampolines, playing softball, and putting on talent shows.
  • She taught me a little fear is good for a child. I probably had the strictest parents of my peer group growing up. I was afraid of my parents to a certain extent. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt they would find out when I screwed up, and I knew they’d beat the hell out of me if I needed it. It kept me out of a lot of trouble, and taught me to respect authority in all facets of my life. It also taught me how I want to parent. Full of grace, yet full of discipline. Kids want structure and discipline, and being forced to obey will only prepare them for the future. Letting things slide is the easy way out. Mom never took the easy way out with me.
  • Mi casa = su casa. There is always room for one more at dinner; if you’ve been here more than once you might as well live here, make yourself at home. You know where the toilet and fridge are, help yourself. I don’t know that anyone ever entered her home and felt uncomfortable. Our house was just a good place to be.
  • If your kids want their friends to come to your house, and you have no other conflicts, say yes. Sure, it means your house is going to get messy just after it was cleaned, your grocery bill will probably be double that of most, but if the kids are at your house, you know what is going on. One of the things I loved most was hearing how comfortable my friends always felt at my house, like it was a second home.
  • She was a good friend. Being a good friend means showing up. Even when your friends say they don’t need anything, show up anyway, and bring cake. If you were lucky enough to be in my mom’s inner circle, you knew she had your back. Her circle was small, she wasn’t that outgoing. But those who were in, knew they’d never have a need go unmet.
  • She had an amazing sense of humor, and she taught us a sense of humor will make life bearable. Mom’s sense of humor was very dry. Sometimes you weren’t sure if she was telling a joke or had just cussed you out in a passive aggressive sort of way. But, her laugh was contagious. I’m thankful mom taught me to laugh to keep from crying.
  • She loved to read. She taught me a good book can be great therapy. I loved watching my mom read, you could just see the joy it poured into her.
  • She taught me to take the kids to church. My mom actually didn’t go to church with me when I was a young kid, but she took me to church with my Grandmother- every single Sunday. She dropped us off, and picked us up. Even the weekends it was my dad’s weekend to have me, she picked me up and took me to church. Sunday nights, Wednesday nights, and any other time there was something going on, we were there. After I accepted Christ in 5th grade, my mom and step dad started coming to church with me, and we all made Sedalia Baptist our church home. She served in church. I still remember those little kiddos she taught for years in 2-3 year old preschool class. Most of them have their own kids now.
  • We loved that mom was an excellent cook, and I love that she taught me how to cook.Our (my busy) life dictated that I needed to help with dinner. As a middle school cheerleader, I had dinner ready at 4:30 so our family could eat as soon as mom got home from work and we would head to the ballgames.She could cook dinner for the 3 of us, or prepare food for a party of 50, whatever she touched always turned out amazing.
  • It was important to have dinner together as a family. Almost every night, regardless of what we had going on, and even if it was a bowl of cereal, we sat down and ate together. It was our time to check in, reconnect and plan what was going on. Today, even with our crazy schedules, we all have a meal together every day.
  • Mom loved to travel, she taught me the importance of taking family vacations. We took family vacations every year. Those memories are some of the best I have growing up. It doesn’t have to be big and expensive, just carve out time to get away. One of my favorite travels was taking my mom to Hawaii for her 45th birthday. It was a trip with just the two of us, somewhere she always wanted to go. I’m beyond grateful I was able to do that for her. I’m also thankful that we had one family vacation with my mom and my kids before she passed away.
  • Mom was a quiet soul. She taught me everyone needs some time to their selves to recharge. My mom was quieter than most, and happier alone than most. I’m not like her in the quiet respect. But, I also learned that sometimes I need to be alone and recharge, and that is okay.
  • She taught me that ironing was highly overrated. My mom was Suzie Homemaker. She worked full time, fixed lunches, cooked dinner, cleaned house, hosted parties, and kept it together in ways to make Martha Stuart look silly. But that woman hated to iron. She tried to make ironing my chore when I was in high school. I burnt a hole in a shirt, and we just let that go away. To this day I hate ironing. There’s a perfectly good dry cleaners around 3 different corners from my house, it’s supporting the economy….
  • She taught me to never burn a bridge you might have to walk over again some day.
  • She was never late. To her, being on time meant showing up five minutes early. Only fitting that she made it to Heaven way ahead of schedule for the rest of us.

Mom, you loved us all so well. I hope you felt that love in return. You were a rare treasure, your legacy lives on in what you taught us and who you raised us to be. Fifty-six years wasn’t nearly enough time for this world to enjoy you; but you accomplished more in those 56 than most do in 80. I hope someone made you a delicious chocolate pie today. Happy Birthday in Heaven.


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