The other night the Captain told me that Mom was the best reason to keep dating me. As some of you may recall, our early relationship was a bit tumultuous, but Mom knew we loved one another. Frankly, I think during that time she may have loved the Captain more than me, so she was determined to keep us together. Even when the Captain had given up on me, he still loved my mother enough to accept an invitation to her wedding and, as photographic evidence proves, to almost dance with her!
Mom called the Captain one more time, to join her at the intervention that saved my life. It was her unique gift to see the truth of a person, even if it was hidden beneath hair dye, black leather and bravado. Hers was an open, accepting heart and she loved me even when I was more burden than blessing.
She was a spiritual person, comfortable in her faith and religion, but open-minded in a truly Christian fashion. She was the embodiment of Jesus’directive to love thy neighbor. Her whole life was spent in service to others: first as a nurse, where her healing touch brought comfort to countless patients, and later as a teacher where she taught the principles of her nursing profession.
These are just job titles and can’t fully convey the depth of her influence on our lives. In fact, all her jobs were an extension of her most meaningful one. She was a wonderful mother—strong, caring, and most important, resilient. Mothering is not for the faint of heart—it requires a dichotomous blend of stubborn resolve and surrender, soaked in love. Mom got the mix just right and shared it with everyone—neighbors, co-workers, friends, her children, our friends, her students, and eventually with her grandchildren and their friends, too.
I could share any number of personal stories about my life with Mom, as could all of you. The details would be different, but the theme would be the same. She was a welcoming, warm, forgiving, joyful presence in our lives. She was love. And while I will weep for her physical absence from my life, there is still tangible proof of her in the world. The lessons she taught us—the important ones about respect and kindness, strength and serenity—will resonate for generations to come.
We are the bodies that carry her now. If we all take the piece of Mom that is within us, share the love that she gave us, it becomes universal and infinite. And, in so doing, Mom lives forever.