So, it's Mother's Day, and I am reminded again how lucky I am to still have my mom around. She is 86 and still going strong. I know this because I called her three times last week and she wasn't home. When I finally talked to her last night on the phone to wish her happy mother's day, she said that last week was so busy! She had cards on Monday night, work on Tuesday, cards with church on Wednesday and book club somewhere in there, too. While I talked to her, she was talking to a neighbor about bringing the brats to the cookout. On the go again, so we had to cut our conversation a little short.
It's funny, but it reminded me of the Harry Chapin song Cats in the Cradle. "When you coming home Dad, I don't know when. We'll get together then." (I joked about this all the time with my kids when they would go out with their friends instead of staying home with the parents.)
But don't get me wrong, I'm not saying her busy lifestyle is a bad thing. Frankly, I think it is awesome. It is something to strive for. Forget wanting to be "Like Mike." I want to be like Mary when I get old.
When I was at a preparing for retirement seminar a few years back, they said the single most important thing in retirement is staying engaged socially. It is key to keeping mentally sharp and fundamentally engaged and happy. Well, if that's the case, Mom's going to live forever.
There are many stories of mom's thoughtfulness - too many to count - but one in particular comes to mind. After Donna and I were engaged, we got a small apartment on the East side of Milwaukee. Donna was still out in New York, and I was trying to settle our apartment. Mom and my sister Jane drove down to visit me. When they showed up, she had brought a braided rug, a wastebasket, some cleaning supplies and a few other household items. "It's a housewarming gift, sorta," she said.
Now one would say that any mother would do this, and maybe that is true. I only know that as the "kid that moved away," I had done life on my own and was stubbornly independent. So it meant a ton that she would travel 300 miles to help me and my fiance start our life together. It was proof that you can be a 28 year old adult, but you're still someone's kid. And family is family. You help each other.
If you know my story, or have read my books, you know the background behind my mom and our family. She faced a lot of adversity as a young mother and it fueled her will to persevere and raise us despite it all. When I think of the grief I went through losing my brother, it makes me even more cognizant of her strength to carry on.
And while she had help along the way from my stepfather and other family, there were still incredible stresses she faced when none of them were around. If you ask her how she did it she will say it was her faith, and I can't deny anyone that claim. I would add that she was just doing her best as a mother to set the bar for the rest of us to stretch toward.
I can only hope to do half as much for my own kids.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom!