My mother was born in rural western Kentucky, the daughter of a coal miner and a housewife who never learned to drive a car. She grew up in a house that had a grocery store and gas station in the front room, and she proudly wore a high school letterman’s jacket that displayed her prowess as a cymbal player in the marching band.
Shipped off to college in the late ‘60’s to get her MRS degree, she met and married my father a few weeks prior to her 20th birthday. My father had just graduated and was slated to go to Germany as part of his ROTC obligation. They boarded a plane a few weeks after they were married. It was the summer of 1970.
They spent 4 years in Europe, traveling throughout the continent, and bringing my sister into the world in 1972. They returned in 1974 when my father’s obligation to Uncle Sam was finished. They moved into a house in Lexington, Kentucky and my father started graduate school. I was born in February of 1975.
My earliest specific memory of my mother is hard to categorize. I have a number of snapshot memories from that old house in Lexington, but it’s hard to separate real ones from pictures or stories I have seen or heard. We moved from that house in 1978 to Louisville, when I was 3, and when I think of memories from that first Louisville house, it’s hard for me to categorize a timeline of when certain events/memories took place. Suffice it to say, my earliest memories of my mother are centered around feelings of warmth, comfort, safety, and an overabundance of love. Funny thing is, when I think of my Mom now, it’s still that way.
Next to holidays, I think my favorite early memories of my mother are centered around trips to the mall on quiet weekdays when all the big kids (including my sister) were in school, and I had my Mom all to myself. She’d get me a sugar cookie at the store in the mall, and if I was really lucky an Orange Julius. I remember being fascinated by the trees that grew out of the mall floor. I loved those trips to the mall with her.
As I grew older, my mother never seemed to fall out of touch. She was always there for me, was always the consummate “cool” Mom. She let me skip school, she gave me money to go out with my friends, she rarely nagged (except about leaving my shoes or my coat lying around), and she always tried to be interested in the things I was interested in.
My mother is kind, personable, selfless, self-disciplined, hard working, and generous. She comes from simple roots, but has never used that as an excuse for intellectual stagnation. She is intelligent, worldly, and urban, but she is also simple, laid back, and easy going. She is a world traveler, a successful nurse and medical center administrator, and she is well-liked and respected by her peers. She’s also extremely humble, which may be one of her more endearing qualities.
My mother has a seemingly boundless capacity for love. This is the most important thing she has taught me. Generosity, compassion, kindness, good humor – those are all hallmarks of who my mother is. It’s not a platitude when I say that I have the quintessential mother – the perfect mom.
So since it is too frequently deserved and far too rarely spoken, I wanted to take this opportunity to tell my mother that she is wonderful, intelligent, inspiring, caring, loving, generous, and, most of all, the best mom in the world. I would not be who I am, and I damn sure wouldn’t be where I am, if it were not for my mother.
I love you, Mom.