My Mother was a kind gentle woman. A homemaker. She was the youngest of 10 children and had to grow up between two world wars when the pickings were slim and this with 8 brothers! Never had proper schooling or education. She barely got married to my dad and got a job in a cookie factory when the Germans invaded Belgium, for the second time!
The young couple had to flee to France on foot. Once there, they immediately realized that they had made a too hasty of a decision to take flight, so they turned around and walked the whole way back! During the war, my oldest brother was born and mother started her career as the most loving, caring, affectionate person the universe had ever set light on.
My mother never got a break in her young life but that didn’t matter to her. She never complained about it and her kids and husband always came first. Although my father had built our house, it was my mother who made it a home. Growing up there as a kid was exciting, believe it or not. Even in later life. We kids, knew, that when we were heading home, we were going to a place where it was safe and pleasant. All because mom lived there. Even my father shared the same sentiment openly, there was no better place than home!
I was a lucky kid, I guess, for having a mother that did everything for me. I was also the youngest nestling who received the most attention since there was a big age gap between me and my siblings.
I loved my mother. I really did, I adored her but somehow in my younger years, I took her for granted. Not on purpose or willingly but she made life so easy that I never thought about it or took a moment to realize how fortunate I was. She cut my sandwiches, made my bed and made sure that there were clean clothes for everybody on a daily basis. When I was sick she nurtured me back in the saddle. Even the many times when I faked an ailment and she knew, she still cared for me in the same affectionate way.
When I was drafted into the army, the first week, I received a letter from my mother. A letter! Mom was not the writing kind of a woman and other than a shopping list or a note to my dad, not to forget to close the garage door again, she never ever wrote anything! But that letter opened my eyes! Here was a woman who had deep feelings I never knew of. She wrote about life at home, her thoughts about the world, music, a book she had read, all kind of things. It shocked me! I was eighteen and I just now discovered that my mother had opinions! Those letters kept coming regularly and I saved them all. Still have them. Once in a while I re-read one and every time I choke up when I see the way she wrote “Dear son” and her sign off with “Mother and Father”.
I lost my mom in the fall of my 24th year. My dad had passed away a few years before and mother was never the same anymore after that. She had surgery for a heart condition she had been ignoring for years. When she came out of surgery and was brought into the recovery room, us kids were waiting with her until she woke up. When she did, I remember thinking that there was something wrong with the look on her face. Somehow it did not seem right. After we were told by the nurses that mother needed to rest, we went home. I barely made it home when I received a phone call from my brother to immediately drive back to the hospital. Mother was once again in the OR.
When I arrived there my brother and my sister were waiting outside of her room. Both were looking down and did not say one word. I knew without communicating that mom was gone.
It took my breath away! This was impossible! Not mom! What were we supposed to do now!? After a couple of minutes, I asked my sister if our mother was in there. My sister could only nod without looking at me.
I went into the room. The curtains were drawn and there in the bed next to the window, was the only person that I thought would never leave me. At least not so soon in life. As I walked over, afraid to look at her, my mind took me back to my youth. I could not fathom that I would never see her again, never give her a hug anymore or celebrate her birthdays. Christmas or any other holiday would never be the same and my kids would grow up without a grandmother.
When I reached the edge of the bed and found enough courage to look at her, the anxious feeling subsided for the state I would find her in. Mom looked peaceful and beautiful, even in passing. I grabbed her hand, kissed her forehead and thanked her silently for the wonderful gift she had given us and for making my childhood the best years of my life.
I will never forget my parents.
Motherhood cannot be taken lightly and although most of us sometimes do, we should always remember the ones that are taking care of us selflessly. Either it is our mother, grandmother, wife, sister or any woman close and dear to you. We should celebrate her with even the smallest gestures of gratitude on Mother’s Day.
There is an old Mexican proverb that says it all; “The house does not rest on the ground, but upon the woman in it!”