It started when I was making Easter dinner, and I thought constantly throughout the prep that I wanted to do it "right, the way Mom does it." The epitome of a hostess, you could say she worked "hospitality" for 30+ years as a flight attendant and had fun laying out a beautiful table or hosting a Mother/Daughter Tea for our friends and their moms in our backyard. Tea sets, mini pastries-the whole nine yards-including turning on the fountain in the jacuzzi for that upscale affect. Maybe that's why the tea we had for Laidy's baby shower made me cry: it took me back to one of the many ways that my Mom showed us that she cared about us, wanted to have fun (and taught us manners/presentation in the process).
As we were sitting down eating Easter dinner, another memory sparked. One particular year, Easter coincided with Daylight Savings and our spring break, so we flew to Iowa to be with family and planned to attend the Sunrise Service. It was practically pitch black outside when we pulled in as the lone vehicle in the church's parking lot. Eventually, a police car drove by, and asked what we were doing as the Sunrise Service wasn't set to start for another hour: Daylight Savings. I don't remember our math being so far off, but needless to say, I remember the "adventure" in the dark of night and a great joke to tell the folks of small town New Providence: that those crazy Californians can't get their timing right. ;)
My mind drifted to another parking lot... Our dog needed emergency care on New Year's Eve and when the emergency struck, we were all in our pjs to watch the ball drop in Time's Square on TV. The vet told us to get to the clinic right away, so the three of us girls (Dad was on a flight with United at the time) rushed to get loaded in the car (still in our pj's). Ironically enough, the clinic was located right next to a liquor store. Mom had brought a change of clothes and set about changing modestly in the car. That was parked in front of a liquor store. On New Year's Eve. You can imagine the hilarity of Katie and I keeping an eye out and Mom not getting much done in between customers walking in and out of the store. Though a sadder occasion that brought us to a parking lot, we still managed to make it an adventure and a great joke to tell Dad. ("Dad! Mom stripped in front of a liquor store!")
Those are small events in such a rich history of what being a good Mom looks like (even if things seem harried and messy at the time). As my mom celebrates a big birthday this weekend (that ends in a ZERO!!!) I can't help but think of all the amazing things she has done for us: Girl Scout troop leader (even still today), Support Staff for running errands for us, Swim Team "Mom", Time Manager to show us how to get it all done on time, Seamstress, Homemaker while working outside the home, and most recently, a sacrificial Caretaker of multiple generations under one roof. Her quiet grace in how she serves causes some to not know how much she actually has done and how much she knows. And she's never one to toot her own horn. She was/is a constant, comforting presence while still working her tail off for us & Dad.
There are times when I'm homesick throughout the year, but it seems to strike most strongly when I'm pregnant-you just want your Mom around! While she's not near me in proximity, I think often of the summer days in New Providence where she and dad worked together in the heat and humidity of the day, dripping in sweat through a task that was physically grueling. But they wouldn't stop until the sun felt it was time to draw the day to a close. Only then, would they put their feet up on the south-facing porch with a cold ice tea in hand and let the cooler night air dry them off. The example of their work ethic is ever before me when I'm exhausted and think my pregnant body can't do anymore. I'm then able to wring out a little extra "juice", just like their sweat rags at the end of the day. I want to give that work ethic to Laidy; I want to give her the manners, homemaking, caring of others, sense of adventure (perhaps without the stripping in front of a liquor store), and the knowledge that I have her back-but will tell it to her straight-to go with her even if I end up being 1800 miles away some day.
This doesn't begin to cover what you mean to me. But as you celebrate your "-0"ieth birthday, know that I'm doing my best to show YOU to Laidy even if you're not physically near. I want to be the kind of mom you were, and are, to us and I'm forever indebted to you.
All my love,