This beautiful lady is my mother. She gave me her whole heart, and the better part of her life.
Thank you, Mama,
For sitting next to me at my son’s funeral, and never letting go of my hand. You were grieving, too, but I fainted, and you forgot everything but me. You held me up. Thank you for always, always holding me up.
At the end of your life, and in the deepest throes of Alzheimer’s, for never forgetting my name. For showing me that love is greater than any disease.
For tending me round the clock when, newly arrived from Germany, I came to you sick with pneumonia. For taking care of a six-month old baby and three active young children, while I recuperated. For climbing stairs all during the day to bring me medicine and meals. For coming into my room in the middle of the night and adding a blanket to my bed.
For taking care of my children when I went to work, too poor for child care because my husband was in law school. For when, in your sixties, you fed them, cared for them, kept them safe and loved. For never making me feel guilty.
For, when I got divorced, never saying, “I told you so.” For never judging me. For showing me how to let someone make their own mistakes, and learn from them.
For marching me down to the Philadelphia Board of Education and demanding that I be admitted to a high school that was known for its high academic standards.
For defying the principal of my junior high school when he tried to convince you that it would “damage” me to send me to school with more privileged, better educated children. For saying, “We’ll take the risk.” For teaching me to be brave, and to never listen to anyone who tells me I cannot fight for my dreams.
For scrimping and saving for piano lessons. For giving me a love of music. For teaching me that money, or the lack of it, cannot keep you from feeding your soul.
For never successfully teaching me – no matter how hard I tried – to make your fried chicken. For teaching me that some things can’t be duplicated.
For ignoring my anger when you made me wear leggings to school on cold, snowy mornings. For making me eat a hot breakfast every morning. Yes, and for making me swallow castor oil! For teaching me that sometimes somebody knows better than we do.
For making a fire in the furnace before I got up every morning. For washing my clothes in the tub. For walking me to school on icy mornings. For teaching me that sometimes loving somebody is hard, daily work.
For never criticizing me. Ever. For knowing how harmful that can be to a person’s soul.
For how your hand felt on my brow when I was sick. For teaching me that love is healing.
For going to work when I was in high school. For bringing your paycheck home in bags for me so that I’d dress as well as the more affluent girls, the girls whose fathers were doctors and lawyers. For always making me feel proud of my father, who was a policeman. For that enormously expensive graduation dress. For teaching me to study hard, that how I presented myself to the world was important, and to never, ever apologize for who I was.
For never doubting that I would go to college. For forgiving me when I dropped out to get married. For cheering me on when I went back.
For giving up your career as a teacher to be my mother twenty-four hours a day. For never looking back. For teaching me that when the choice is yours, not to resent it.
For knowing that love is the great healer of every scraped knee, every broken heart, every disappointment, and every failure.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mama.
Thank you, dear friends, for the lovely comments about The Messenger. There is a chapter in it about my mother and a special gift she gave me. I hope you will enjoy it. By the way, her name was – is – Precious.
Look for The Messenger by Helen Delaney on Amazon.com