Being mothers day, a few words about mom might be in order.
Mom turned 80 last April. While I realize you're never supposed to mention a woman's age, I have no shame in declaring hers because she is the youngest 80 year-old I've ever known.
At 80, she is:
- Still working part time a couple days a week at a monastery answering phones and doing clerical work. This helps with grocery money and bills, but more importantly, gets her out of the house and connected with people. They say that in retirement, having a good social network is as important as anything.
- Volunteering at her church, counting the offering money and organizing food/arrangements for funerals.
- Driving herself wherever she needs to go. She isn't big on night driving anymore, and if offered, she'll take a ride from anyone. But I love the fact that she would drive anywhere by herself without giving it a second thought.
- Adventurous. When she was in Cozumel, my sister and nieces were going to rent mopeds and ride around the island on them. Mom, not wanting to be left out, said she would ride on the back of Stephanie's moped. She got her helmet, got on the back and was ready to go. If it wasn't for a mechanical breakdown, the two of them would have done it, of that I have no doubt. It's a little like my cousin Coe, who took his 80+ year old dad out to Sturgis in a sidecar one year. My newest mantra is "Moped at 80."
- A free spirit. When my wife and I mentioned we were getting tattoos, Mom said "Well, maybe I'll get one too." While it doesn't have to be as extreme as this, doing things like that keep you young, and my mom is living proof of that.
- Funny. My mom loves to laugh and has no problem laughing at herself. I attribute much of my self-deprecating writing style as coming from her. If you can't laugh at yourself then how do you expect people to react when you laugh at them? I think it is an endearing quality. It makes people realize you're human.
- Socially conscious. Mom volunteers at the polls every election as a poll worker registering voters. She has definite opinions on controversial social issues but will never bring them up unless someone asks her.
- Deep in her faith. Mom is active in her church and still makes it to church every week. Her faith has pulled her through many difficult trials over her lifetime, and while I'm sure there were times she questioned where God was in all of her loss, she has stood by it and continues to model it to her kids and grandchildren.
- Healthy. She walks when the weather is good, and when it's not she'll sometimes walk the treadmill. She's forever dieting and realizes the importance of moving.
- The foundation. Mom is still the glue that holds the family together. She is still the one who brings the turkey and dressing for Thanksgiving. She is still the one who sends birthday cards, graduation cards, and buys the fundraiser items from her grandchildren. She does this because we're family and in her eyes family ALWAYS comes first.
Growing up in a single-parent family for much of my life, I'm probably a little biased in my claims that my mother, the mother of 7 kids, was special. At the same time, as a father of two kids, I know the time, effort, love and energy it takes to raise well-adjusted kids. To have to spread that over 7 is almost beyond comprehension.
All that is left to say is, Thanks Mom. Thanks for the sacrifices, the love, the joy and the patience you showed all of us and our kids over the years. Thanks for staying young and loving us as much today as when we were kids. I only hope I can do the same for my kids that you've done for me.