Love and roses, chocolate and wine. Nice. But nothing compared to a mother’s love. So today, as hearts and candies make the rounds, I honor the first person to love me with her whole heart and the person who has loved me most consistently ever since. My mom.
Snapshots: curling up together on the couch to watch The Waltons, coke floats at the kitchen table after school, hanging out on inner tubes off the coast of North Carolina, angel food cakes for my birthdays, a taffy pull birthday party, helping hang the bulletin board in her classroom before the first day of school, listening to her sing hymns while she cooked dinner, watching her make pies for sick neighbors, helping put out the finger foods for the church choir parties at our house, cooking over camp-fires, canoeing down Missouri rivers, washing our hair together in cold mountain streams, summer mornings on the back patio with her coffee cup in hand, birds at the feeder, classical music on the radio, singing together in the alto section at church, laughter.
Lots of laughter. My mother has the most beautiful laugh in the world, matched only by her own mother’s laughter when she was alive.
My mom is generous to a fault, smart as a whip (don’t ever challenge her words in Scrabble), and loving down to her very bones. I used to wish I could grow up to be like her. It took me a while to realize I had to grow up to be me.
I have the kind of mother my friends enjoy visiting. Actually, who doesn’t love to visit my mother? She’s that easy kind of hostess where the food is great, but never fussy, and you know it’s fine to put your feet up without even asking.
I have the kind of mother who decided to take her first yoga class at age 80 and now hates it when the teacher takes a week off. The kind of mother who adopted a big black lab as her late-life companion. And who faithfully walks that dog up and down her mountain every day.
A small blog post can’t come close to doing her justice. So many phrases sound too trite to be true: a woman of deep faith, for example, or the person who taught me unconditional love. But in her presence they are not trite and so true.
When my life came crashing down around me several years ago, my mom was rock solid. No judgement, no unsolicited advice, just love, love, love.
This photo is from her birthday last April (age 81) when we braved the snow to hike a bald that she wanted to see. We took our dogs up and then stopped at Hot Springs on the way down the mountain for a natural hot-tub. Mom blissed out.
Happy Valentine’s Day to the woman I love with all my heart.