She has always been there, reflected in the peaceful faces of your children each night as they lay sleeping. Her influence and guiding light shines through your life, your children’s and, one day, theirs. She is a constant influence whether living across town, across the nation, or long gone from this spinning blue globe. She is the person simply called Mom. But nothing about being a mom is simple. It has taken most of my adult life to realize that.
Looking back at a childhood a long, long time ago living on that old familiar street not so far away, I never really understood what it took to be a mom. Sadly, back then I took the person we called Mom for granted.
As a kid growing up on Flamingo, my biggest worry was trying to avoid another fight with Down the Street Bully Brad. I wasn’t concerned about clean clothes, food on the table, how our rooms and the entire house got cleaned, or who took us five kids to all of our different extracurricular activities. And why should I? Somehow someone did all those things. That someone was Mom.
It was a different place and time. Mom mended holes in our blue jeans — holes created after weeks of us working on the three-year dig called Cliff Condos. Holes torn as we toppled over chain-link fences and struggled to get free from thick briars as we trudged through the dense woods we called the Haunted Forest. And holes created by countless summer trips down Cripple Creek’s sliding rock. Now I realize she did all of the above and so much more. She also helped mend holes in our hearts.
When Candi Samples crushed all hopes of going to the eight-grade dance with a muffled laugh behind her hand, it was Mom who gave a loving shoulder to cry upon. As Dad fumed about the cost of replacing yet another torn shirt, it was Mom who tended to my injuries: bloody lips and cuts inflicted almost weekly by my archnemesis Bully Brad.
Throughout the years, Mom placed countless cool wet washcloths on our foreheads as fevers ravaged our bodies, tucked us in every night, chased away demons from our nightmares as we woke screaming in our darkened bedrooms, and held us as she rocked us back to sleep. Mom gave love and comfort. Never once did I hear her complain about her role in life or in our family. That’s a lesson I still need to learn.
When Dad came down on us for disobeying, lying, breaking things, or otherwise just being kids, it was Mom who interceded. She smoothed Dad’s rough edges and softened him. All the compassion and empathy that runs through my veins comes solely from her.
She guided Dad in every decision he made and helped him build a real estate empire. She was not the person behind the man, but the person who stood beside him. An equal.
It was of no surprise that upon her passing a big part of the Dad I knew while growing up on Flamingo also passed. His empire, and the man, crumbled.
I’ll hear her voice and see her face until the day I die. Strange. You’d think the further from her passing, the less I would see, hear, and rely on her wisdom. But just the opposite is true.
Mom has now been gone from our lives as many years as she was here. But she is present more now than ever. Here or gone, all moms are forever. Happy Mother’s Day to all of them.
[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog: storiesbyrick.wordpress.com.]