14 May 2017

On Mother's Day

Courtesy of Benson A
There is a saying about motherhood, and its originator is unknown, that goes like this:

A mother is always the beginning.
She is how things begin.

It's a simple truth. Who we are begins with our mothers and today, we celebrate mothers. 

Today, I celebrate and honor my mother who taught me to serve others, to work hard, and to, to what I am sure is her eternal regret, speak my mind. I celebrate the gajillion chances she given me to improve. I'm grateful for our phone conversations that we have several times a week, even if they sometimes end at loggerheads (thanks Obfuscation Fox News for absolutely nothing on that one). I'm proud of my mom for how she's lived her life since my dad has died. She continues to surprise me.

Today, I celebrate and honor my wife, the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML. The lives of our three children began with her. Those three are who they are because of her. They got the best of her in every aspect of their lives. Arguably, they got the best of me, too, but their mother's best parts helps them shine in spite of my contributions. Each one of our children are making their worlds better because of the example of their mother. She's amazing and I'm just grateful that she still wants to hang out with me.

Today, I laugh with my oldest daughter as she mothers her two children. Earlier this week, she shared with us the Mothers Day questionnaire that our nearly four year old boss of a grandson completed at pre-school. It is everything. It is the classic thinking of a pre-schooler.

In his mind, his mother is 17, which must be like 40 in pre-school years, because they don't watch TV to speak of in their house so I know he's not been sneaking old episodes of "16 and Pregnant." Also, I fear that my being 50ish is something he can't even comprehend. He must think I'm as old as dirt.

That he is always being told to "clean up stuff" and that when he doesn't obey upsets her is proof positive that his mom and his grandmother are cut from the same cloth.

The he doesn't think she's not good at "going upstairs" is proof that his mom is also just like me, her father. She would be wise to also master going down the stairs, as we know I'm seriously challenged in this arena.

That "she puts food on (his) fork for (him)" and that he wants to give her magnets is proof that a child's love for his mother is simple, beautiful, and just a little mysterious. Magnets? I've got to get to the bottom of this.

One thing I know is this - whether a mother has mastered loading up a child's fork with food or has told her for the billionth time to clean up her room or reminds her middle-aged son to remember who he is and to drive carefully, in spite of the fact that he's been driving for nearly thirty five years, a mother's love knows no end. I'm grateful for it.

Happy Mothers Day to all those who have mothered me. I'm better for it.

07 May 2017

A Farewell

My father and my Aunt Robin during World War II
One week ago, an insidious disease that our family is all too familiar with, claimed our Aunt Robin. As my cousin Leigh wrote so beautifully of her mother's long fight against Alzheimer's, Robin's fight was dignified.

Dignified. Classy. Kind. Loving. Those are just some of the words that describe my father's sister. Loving is the one that frames my memories most of Robin.

From my earliest days, I can recall my father speaking in the most glowing of terms about his sister. He called her "Pud," (rhymes with 'good'), and to this day, I wish I knew the origin story of that name, but to him, that's who she was. Because we lived in Arizona and Robin's family was in North Carolina, we didn't see each other frequently. I do know, though, that when we did get together in their Durham home, we were never strangers. We were family and even in my peek dork years - 13 years of age - when we all gathered for Thanksgiving, that feeling of family that my aunt worked so hard to create was ever present. As I got a little older, I had the opportunity to visit North Carolina several times as my late grandmother, Grandmommy, was in Robin's care. I have fond memories of attending church with Robin on those trips. She loved music and she was in her element, singing in that stately choir loft in that Presbyterian church in Durham. I was unfamiliar with some of the Presbyterian traditions and she always so kind in explaining how it all worked. Kind, welcoming, warm. Shortly after the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML and I married, I was thrilled that we were able to travel to North Carolina to see our family there. Again, Robin welcomed my sweet wife into the family, as if she'd always been a part of it. I have never forgotten that.

When my father died almost eight years ago, Robin was already fighting the monster that would one day take her life but she was able to travel to Phoenix for his funeral. I will never forget seeing her and my mom, sitting on the couch, holding each other by the hand and reliving memories of my father. The bond my aunt shared with my dad, even though he was now gone, was evident and clearly unbreakable. Family chains don't break and now they are celebrating their reunion, along with their parents who had gone on before them. Their family is together again.

In the coming weeks, we will gather to celebrate her life and to honor the legacy Robin has left in my cousins and their children. We will love, honor, and celebrate a woman who left a positive impact on every person she met.

I'm forever grateful for my Aunt Robin and the life she led. Would that we could all live in such a way that every one you met felt better for it. That's an incredible way to live.

Our family - the last time we were all together. Sweet memories.

Alzheimer's is a horrendous disease. If you'd like to donate to the fight to find a cure, go here.