The first thing I knew about my mom was that she loved the countryside; fields of grass and flowers in the summer and white snow in the winter. The second thing I learned about my mom was that her patience was as long as the Mississippi River, was as wide as the Grand Canyon, was as deep as the Pacific Ocean. But when it was gone it was gone and not coming back.
Thank you for loving me when I know it was difficult so do so.
I got sick a lot. I would stay home from school. Physically sick, or just sick of all the finger-pointing, teasing classmates that took so much time out of their day to make other kids miserable.
Thank you for taking care of me when I was sick, even (or especially) the times I didn’t have a fever.
And thank you for taking care of me, but also for not taking care of me when it was time to stand on my own two feet. You knew as well as I should have that you weren’t always going to be there to pick me up, so thank you for giving me two feet to stand on and carry me when you couldn’t.
What I never learned about my mom was what she gave up to have me. To make me. To create me practically out of thin air, like magic, like nothing. I never learned that she dropped out of college to give me a life. That she quit her degree in biology to create mine. That I became her life in a way that perhaps even she wasn’t ready for.
It’s not a thank you in the way I say it to cashiers and waiters. Or a thank you that ends up on Hallmark cards and balloons.
It’s something that when my vision blurs it’s a thank you I mean from a place I can’t describe, that might not even exist in the physical world but sure feels powerful inside of me.
It’s sentimental, maybe, but when it comes to something like this I feel as sentimental does, do, will be and should be for you.
The last thing I learned about my mother was that she was a simple woman. She didn’t need much to be happy. She needed only her books and a smile on my face as she read them to me. That the world was a simple place to her. Things made sense and she made them make sense to me.
I asked her questions. She had the answers.
And she was an elegant woman. I know this from pictures, and from the makeup next to her mirror and the dresses in her closet that only came out on special occasions. She had high cheekbones just like mine, and sharp eyes that saw and felt and understood. The things she couldn’t say with her words she said with her eyes, with the nuance that only a mother could have.
Thank you, mom, for being strong. And for making me stronger.
Thank you for taking care of me. But more importantly, thank you for teaching me how to take care of myself.