An unexpected gift dropped into my lap yesterday evening. After finishing dinner, I checked my phone and saw that I had a message. It was from an old friend who now lives halfway across the country, saying she was going to be driving for a couple of hours and had some time to talk if I wanted to catch up. I thought about my list and how reconnecting with old friends was one of the items – isn’t it funny how sometimes simply expressing a hope sets things in motion?
Of course, I jumped at the chance. We hadn’t spoken in years and had a lot to talk about, so I crept off to my bedroom and closed the door, leaving a confused Pete out in the hallway to fend for himself.
Even though it had been ages since we last talked, we were able to jump right back into each other’s lives. As she told me about her marriage ending, I was in awe of her strength and bravery as she struck out on her own to make a new life for herself. It put my problems in perspective and showed me how I much I have to be thankful for.
We caught up on details about our families, and she asked about my parents. I told her how we had converted our basement into an in-law apartment and that my mom and dad had been here since last spring. She told me how wonderful it is that Paul loves my parents enough to embrace the idea of having them live with us. She also commented on our family dynamic as a whole – how my brother stepped up to do the renovations, and how he and I came up with a plan that took everyone’s needs into consideration – and how lucky we are to have that kind of relationship.
It was a real blessing to have her say those words to me, to help me appreciate just how rare it is for a family to come together this naturally. I told her that it was probably because my parents taught us by example in the selfless way they cared for their own parents (and for us), and in the way they were with each other.
“They’re reaping what they’ve sown,” she replied.
Today is my mom’s birthday. My brother and I tease Mom a lot about her tendency to put everyone and everything before her own needs, to the point where I wonder if she realizes how much we admire her selflessness. And that we could never live up to the standard she has set.
My mother has chosen family over self her entire adult life. She raised her children, forgoing a career. After my brother and I were grown, when my grandmother became forgetful and developed other health problems, my mother left her job in order to move my grandmother into our home and care for her. When my nephew was born, Mom took care him while my brother and sister-in-law worked. Years later, when Anna was born, my mom was always just a phone call away (my dad, too), willing to lend a hand if I had to go to the dentist or take care of some other errand that would be worlds easier without a baby in tow.
When Anna had her stroke and everything in our home was turned on its head, Mom was there to make sure Hope was fed and that she did her homework and got to school on time. And then, just four months later, when my dad suffered a stroke, Mom was with him at the hospital every waking moment, and then at the rehab center, doing whatever she could to make his routine as much like home as possible.
She checks on all of us every day, always making sure everyone is okay and happy. She worries when one of us is going through a hard time. She always offers help – always. She is the rock that holds our family together, and we’d all be lost without her.
Thanks to my dear friend for reaching out yesterday, and for helping me to count the reasons why I cherish both my parents, and my mom in particular, on her birthday.
And thanks for reading.