My mom, that’s who.
When my brother Tony and I became sick with hepatitis as young children, my mom was almost six months pregnant with my sister, Angie. Caring for two children with serious hepatitis is no easy task, especially when you’re incubating a baby. Lots of clean-up (I’ll spare details), loads of nights with little to no sleep and hours and hours of worry. We lived in a small town where a diagnosis was about one month late. Although my mom took us to the doctors repeatedly, it wasn’t until she asked, “why are my kids eyes and skin so yellow) that they took a serious look. That night we were care-flighted from Tonopah, NV to Reno, NV and that night at the hospital given a 50 percent chance of making it through the night. That’s what happens when doctors let a disease attack your liver for 30 days with no care or treatment. I remember my mom and dad spent most of that night on their knees begging God above to spare our lives.
I also remember my mom by my bedside that entire time. I remember her holding my hair back because with Hepatitis you throw up ALL DAY – EVERY DAY. My fever was so high that I started having multiple grand-maul seizures. I had a little Native American doll at the time and was holding her tight during one of my seizures. I later learned my mom threw that doll away because even the sight of her brought back horrible memories. I was four and my brother was six and when we finally returned home from the hospital, my poor mom was under quarantine with her two children for two months straight. As kids you just expect these things from your mom and it isn’t until you become a mother yourself, that you truly appreciate the sacrifices made on your behalf by your sweet mother.
She was there at the OR doors when at nine, I was rushed in for an emergency appendectomy. She nursed me to recovery afterwards. Aside from the OR nurse, hers is the first face I remember seeing when I woke up.
But more than nursing me when I was sick, it’s my mom’s example and her personality that have helped mold me into the person I am today. She’s overly generous. She’s sweet and kind to everyone and has an uncanny ability to listen. People gravitate to her because even if you’re not, she’ll make you feel like you are her number one, favorite person on Earth.
She got married at 17, three days after she graduated from high school (because that’s how they rolled in the 60’s) and has shown me after 44 years of marriage how to keep one healthy and happy and flourishing.
How she tolerated me when I was a teenager, I will NEVER understand. I was an exemplary daughter and student until my sophomore year. That’s when aliens stole my soul and turned me into something no mother should have to endure. But she did and she did it without sending me away to live in the northern woods of Wisconsin with Great Aunt Lily. Even though I wrecked almost every car they owned. Even though I was flippant and didn’t listen and broke curfew. (For the record, I am an excellent driver and have not had a car accident since age 19 – not one that was MY fault anyway).
During my college years, she paid for my car, gas, auto insurance and more. She made regular trips from her ranch to my Las Vegas apartment, always with at least 20 bags of groceries for me AND my roommates. And, there was most always a one-hundred dollar bill stuffed in an envelope with my name on it in one of those grocery bags.
Early in my marriage, I suffered with hyperemesis (non-stop vomiting, home IV’s, multiple trips to the hospital) with all four of my pregnancies. Can you guess who was there again the whole time holding my hair back as I threw up at least 25 times a day? (Last mention of vomit in this post, I promise). She cared for me while I was sick and cared for me as I became a new mother one, two, three and finally four times. She’d stay for a month before the baby and a month after the baby. Nurturing my other children and helping them make the transition as well. She swept and mopped floors, did all of the grocery shopping and cooking, got kids off to school and took the newborn so I could get some sleep.
She lives on a dreamy ranch in Central Nevada and if given the choice between Disneyland and Grandma’s ranch, my kids will pick Grandma’s every time. Because when we get there she has the four-wheelers out of the garage and ready for rides with my kids. There is a hot dinner waiting for us the minute we arrive and her pantry (based upon phone calls with me) is flat-out stocked with everyone’s favorite everything (which change regularly with children). She purchased bunk beds for the guest room just to make it more fun when the kids come to stay. And last time we were there, she had purchased fake jewels and planted them all over the ranch so she could go “treasure hunting” with my kids. See why all 12 grandkids believe they are her favorite? She does this for my brother and sister’s kids too.
When Adam was diagnosed with autism, she rubbed my shaking shuddering back as I sobbed for the loss of my baby. And she and my sweet Dad would come take Adam and Zac so that Scott and I could get away and actually log more than two hours of sleep when that was Adam’s nightly quota.
And most recently, as I was diagnosed with dysautonmia (which I will post about later), she rushed on a plane from Nevada to Arkansas to take care of me again. She’s sweeping and mopping my floors, whipping up delicious meals, doing laundry, reading to my kids and keeping our pantry stocked. I’ve heard her and Scott up many a late-night as she acts as sounding board for him, “California or Arkansas, California or Arkansas?) Mostly she just listens, but every now and then she chimes in with some wisdom that her 63 years have afforded her.
During family gatherings, sometimes she attempts a brief escape, because everyone wants a piece of her. We all find her, usually in her bedroom with a plate of food attempting to watch just 15 minutes of TV and unwind. Poor mom, it only takes the grandkids about 3 minutes to hunt her down.
The majority of her life is lived for others, not for herself. She lives to make sure her loved ones are cared for and loved. When I have exciting news, she’s the first one I call because I know out of everyone I know, she’ll be the most excited for me and make me feel the best about what I’m about to share. She’s also the first one I call with bad news like an autism or dysautonomia diagnosis, because I know she’ll care the most.
She’s a beautiful woman, inside and out and I cannot imagine where I would be or how I would have turned out without her. Everyone loves you, Mom and I do too. Happy Mother’s Day to you.