My Dearest Mom,
There aren’t enough words to express my gratitude for the love you’ve given me my whole life. Never did a moment occur where I doubted your devotion to me as a parent. During your weakest times you never forgot about me or let me run off course. Your kind-nature spirit always prevailed through any difficulties you endured.
Michael and I were very close growing up. Both of us occasionally had nightmares so we slept next to each other or on the floor in your room. A cold hard floor in your room was better than the repercussions of what could happen to us. Some of my night terrors were ridiculous. I constantly dreamed about Shamu, the killer whale, coming to murder me. I wasn’t a mermaid or living my life on a boat so I have no idea why that black fish haunted me. If my nightmares weren’t about Shamu, they were about a psychopath coming to torture me. I had blonde hair and those chicks always got hacked up first. It’s humorous because I guess Michael and I assumed you’d bust out your chainsaw or machete to defend us if that time ever came. Haha.
The most terrifying real-life nightmare was when a big thunderstorm hit while we were living in the trailer. The loud storm had been brutal and you had us crawling down the hallway toward the living room. You were totally freaked out and to make matters worse, the floor fan caught on fire. You panicked and yelled for me to grab a bowl of water to throw on it. It worked. Looking back, your survival skills needed a little improvement. Haha. Water on electrical fires is never a good idea. That memory cracks me up every time I think about it.
You were my softball idol. Not many kids had a mother who made Most Valuable Player (MVP) and I was proud of you. During one of your games Michael and I went to the playground to have some fun. As his nine-year-old big sister I was incredibly protective of him. A mean girl had been bullying Michael on the merry-go-round then the slide. She refused to leave him alone and after several warnings, I had enough. I grabbed her by her shirt collar, held her in place and dumped my entire Sunkist orange soda on top of her head. It was the last inning of the game. Afterward, I saw her furious mother talking to you from afar. It didn’t help that her sticky orange-drenched daughter had been standing next to her. I knew I was going to be in trouble but it had been worth it to protect my little brother. You were so mad at me until we got in the car and I explained how that girl had terribly humiliated Michael. Then, you smiled at me and said, “Okay, let’s just pretend that incident never happened.” Mother-of-the-Year goes to Janice! That melted my heart. I didn’t need to protect my little brother for long. Once Michael got into He-Man he morphed himself into believing he was the ‘Master of the Universe.’ (I thought it was neat to find so many pictures of me embracing Michael around the shoulder. I was a little Mama Bear!)
When I was 11 years old, you gave me a funny wake-up call in the middle of the night. Dad was at work and our mousetrap had ‘malfunctioned.’ The little mouse had been injured with a swat mark across his nose and he was frantically running around the kitchen trying to free himself. You thought I would’ve been of service in that situation which is hilarious in itself. Getting that mouse into a shoe box and running him out to the woods wasn’t my plan but I felt good about saving a life. Oh, and he did escape with the cheese too! SCORE for the mouse!
That same year Jenny Lynn was born. She was the joy of my heart. I couldn’t wait to get off the school bus and run home to be with my baby sister. I carted her around on my hip everywhere. I nicknamed her ‘Baby Chubs.’ We were so close we even caught the Chicken Pox together. I loved watching her facial expressions when I’d let her play my Atari with me. She loved the colors and movements on the television screen. Jenny was a little hellion pushing her ankle-crunching wooden stroller around the house. Most of the time her stroller had been loaded with a pile of wooden blocks in it. We never knew what to expect because she didn’t care if she rolled over your foot or knocked you down in the process. She had one mission: To get her stroller from Point (A) to Point (B). Not much has changed! Jenny is still a mission-oriented type of person. When you weren’t around I’d sometimes squeeze a few drops of lemon juice on her tongue so I could hysterically laugh at the faces she’d make. I was an awesome sidekick parent. *smile*
All three of us siblings loved hearing dad walk through the front door on Saturday mornings. We knew fresh doughnuts from the bakery were in tow with him and we couldn’t wait to chow down. Yummy. Remember when I insisted I had been hungry enough to eat two doughnuts vice one? Dumb move. I tried to flush the second doughnut down the toilet and it flooded the entire bathroom. You and dad presumed Michael did it and started giving him the ‘You’re grounded’ speech. Michael was so upset. I couldn’t let him take the hit so I confessed. Blah.
The second most petrifying moment of my childhood had been awaking in the middle of the night to creepy ‘sawing’ noises. The sound was consistent with a serial killer sawing a body apart… not that I would have any idea what that noise actually sounded like. Haha. I had prepared myself for that moment my entire childhood. I was about to rescue my entire family from a boogie man that had been hiding under one of our beds for years. I went into survival mode and quietly crawled out of my bedroom and down the hallway. The horrifying noises were coming from your room. I sat there sweating for a bit debating if I should get a butcher knife from the kitchen. Would my ‘crane kick technique’ I learned from The Karate Kid movie be enough to take out this criminal? Luckily I didn’t have to find out because I suddenly heard you mumbling to yourself. It was odd and you didn’t sound like a victim of a serial killer so I reluctantly whispered, “Mom…?” You started crying hysterically so I opened the door and there you were cutting your own cast off your leg with dad’s hand saw. Talk about a RELIEF! That cast was driving you nuts and you couldn’t take it anymore. I can barely type this without laughing.
…. SCARING -and- SCARRING KIDS SINCE THE EARLY 80’S
A daughter’s key development years are ages 12 through 17. You never missed a beat, mom! You were my biggest cheerleader during every softball game (that’s me in my softball uniform below). I played shortstop (just like my mom) for ‘The Splinters.’ It was our team’s championship game. The Splinters were winning by one point. We were at the bottom of the last inning with two outs and bases loaded. A big girl got up to bat who had been known for her grand slams. She swung her bat and I watched as the ball was about to fly by me. I jumped high and to the left and made the FINAL catch of our championship game. The ball hit my glove so hard that it burned but who cared about that! I was so overjoyed! My teammates lifted me in the air and carried me off the field. I felt like a hero! You also loved seeing or hearing about my speed skating races. I’d come home with free skating admission passes after winning races and you were thrilled for me. Even though we didn’t have much money you bought me whatever I needed to enhance my skill sets. When I joined Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) and won County and State for Shorthand II you were my biggest fan!
My bedroom was beautifully decorated in my favorite colors because you wanted me to feel pretty in my surroundings. When the appropriate time came you let me decorate my walls with posters – John Stamos and Jon Bon Jovi. I’m embarrassed to admit I also had a framed portrait of the Chippendales hanging on my wall that I won at the county fair. Because of you my hair and clothes were always trendy for that time period. You took me to my first rock concert to see Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. It was awesome. Our memorable mother-daughter time was spent watching Lifetime Network movies and beauty pageant shows. Little did we know I’d be staring in my own Lifetime movie someday *wink *wink. If our ravishing beauty picks didn’t make it to the Top 10 we’d get irritable and argue with the judges through the television. Clearly those judges were simpleminded! Remember taking me back and forth to Driver’s Ed and how excited I was to get my learners permit? I know you enjoyed riding shotgun when I nearly ran over that man crossing the street for church. He walked slowly until he realized my high rate of speed and then, thankfully, he RAN for his life. You were horrified beyond words. Good times, Mom! 🙂
Finding the perfect dresses for my 8th grade dance, Homecomings and Proms was so much fun. I loved trying on the many dresses at Blushing Bride and seeing your reactions. I always knew by your facial expression when we had found ‘the dress.’ One time you drove me to Iverson mall (the ghetto) to find a dress. Now that’s bravery. You were willing to sacrifice our lives in the process of finding me the winning dress. Haha. Apparently we thought blue and aqua looked magnificent on me… and HUGE hair. My hair was ridiculous! How on earth did I look in the mirror and think to myself, “Oh yea, girl. You are lookin’ good tonight!” I knew those brief periods of time were truly sentimental to you. You never missed seeing me off to a single dance. What mother would miss treasured moments like that with her daughter? Not mine! You didn’t miss any of Michael or Jenny’s dances either. 🙂
It’s hard to believe but by the time Jenny started kindergarten I was already driving and working at the hair salon. I remember going on my first ‘grown up’ teenager date and you were so excited for me. I was mortified when you drove me to the movie theater in your ole blue station wagon to meet him though. Haha. Once I moved on from him and began dating my high school sweetheart you were the greatest friend to me. You were, and still are, able to balance between ‘mother’ and ‘friend.’ When I fought that girl in high school and got suspended you kept your cool and talked it out with me… and then you gave that girl’s father a piece of your mind when he shouted at you, “You’d better keep your daughter in line!” LOL. You were a Mama Bear and I loved that about you. Remember when my boyfriend brought over a bushel of live crabs and while they steamed on the stove top we were stupid enough to open the lid to check on the little guys? Oh, that was so funny. The crabs were like, “Oh, heck no! Let me out of this death-trap sauna! You want a piece of me?!?!” They angrily climbed out of the pot onto the stove then jumped off the kitchen counter onto the floor. One-by-one they kept flowing out of the pot and making their way onto the kitchen floor. They were pissed off big-time as they performed their little claw-snapping sideways dance. We did what any intelligent mother-daughter duo would do. We stood on top of the kitchen table screaming bloody murder until my boyfriend heard us from outside. He put the crabs back into the pot and we left it alone that time!
When my heart was broken you hugged me and told me everything would be okay. Sometimes you cried with me because it pained you to see me so sad. Now that’s love. I achieved good grades in school because you believed me. English had been my favorite subject. My second favorite subject had been History. I hated Math then and I still do today. You and dad always rewarded us for good report cards. Although my grades were always good my goal had been to graduate with straight A’s. I achieved that goal because you and dad had faith in me. You made me feel special at my high school graduation, like I was the only kid in the world graduating that day! I have memories of YOU during EVERY milestone of my childhood. That’s what being an honorable parent is all about, helping their child set and achieve their goals.
You comforted me during my devastating miscarriage. I felt petrified as I laid there on my kitchen floor waiting for help. You came to my rescue, took me to the doctors and we prayed for the best. The pain was terrible and sadly, I lost the baby. A D&C and then it was all over. My dreams were shattered but the best was yet to come. God blessed me when I was 20 years old with Matthew, meaning “Gift of God.” He was and still is my pride and joy. I didn’t have a clue how to parent but you made it fun for me. We shopped and went to yard sales every Saturday. We filled Matthew’s diaper bag with a thousand snacks and the entire Toy Story collection then listened to him in the back seat impersonating each character’s voices all day. It was hilarious. I think he had every style of Buzz Lightyear in existence. Heck, he had me mimicking the squeeze toy aliens in ‘The Claw’ machine at Pizza Planet. I’ve actually mastered that impersonation now. Remember how Matthew constantly picked up nuts, bolts and screws off the floors of department stores? He was a junk collector, continually trying to build ‘something.’ Not much has changed! LOL! You were so nurturing and compassionate and Matthew loved spending time with you. He felt safe and relaxed with you. It’s sentimental to me knowing my pregnancy was the reason you had to consider grandmother names. Your preference was ‘Nana’ and it suited you perfectly.
Mothering is more about the ‘down’ moments than the beautiful moments. Anyone can celebrate the good times. That’s easy. A daughter needs her parent the most when she is struggling with tough times. You’ve remained my constant mainstay. When I was at my weakest you lifted me back up. Being the godly woman you are, if you didn’t think your encouraging words had been enough you brought in reinforcements -LOL- meaning Reverend Fowler, Pastor Paul or dad.
In 2000, I was suffering to a point of dysfunction from chronic panic disorder. I was sick with worry, financially struggling, divorcing, and feared losing custody of my son. I didn’t believe life could get any worse. You asked me to join you at church. I was overcome with self-pity and didn’t want to attend but I went. Reverend Fowler’s sermon changed my life that day. I stood there at a flimsy 98 lbs. trying to pay attention. The sun beamed through the church’s stained glass windows onto my face and I felt an inner sense of joy. I felt God’s Holy Spirit and in that moment I knew I had been saved. It was as if his sermon was meant only for me and I felt an incredible sense of peace. After the service Reverend Fowler spoke to me alone downstairs. A brilliant man of many words but one sentence stood out to me – “Missy, God forgives you.” God didn’t want me enduring any more guilt and it was time to, ”Let go, Let God.” That was God working through YOU to save ME. My life turned around after that and every day got a bit brighter than the one before. I landed a great promotion at work and bought my very first townhouse on my own. You helped me decorate it. Matthew and I were so happy! He made instant friendships in the neighborhood.
Years later I hit a bump in the road when I regrettably remarried a wolf disguised in sheep’s clothing. You never gave up hope for my future. You prayed and didn’t pass judgment on me even though I gave you plenty of reasons to. You persisted until God finally answered – I awoke one day with enough strength to leave that nightmare. He took nearly everything from me but he couldn’t take away God or my parents. In the end, he didn’t break me but I wouldn’t have survived that divorce without you and dad. A few good things came from that dreadful experience. It made me stronger, wiser and humbled. I’d also like to think I made a positive difference in Chelsea and Lesley’s lives. I tried my best. Mom, you helped me get through the agony of the girls returning to Spain which broke my heart. Thank you for that. Lastly, the ‘Yorkshire Empire’ originated with my two furry babies, Rudulfo Maximus and Daisey-Mae Lynn. Their off-springs have brought many smiles to a lot of people! (We miss you, Zoey-girl)
I am so proud of you, Mom. We’ve watched each other grow and learn through the years. I balanced my life and its priorities. I ended unhealthy friendships and parted with broken relationships knowing God had bigger plans for me. We saw each other overcome many obstacles. You are far more brave than you give yourself credit for. You saw your grandparents, both of your dads and your 52-year-old brother, Donnie, go on to be with the Lord. You helped Donnie get saved before his untimely passing. What a beautiful moment to feel proud of… assisting a loved one toward eternal life. You’ve become a more well-rounded Christian, leaving behind any judgmental views you may have once held in the past. Today we both try hard not to complain and we’re grateful for what we have. I’m thankful for our daily morning phone calls. Our morning chats are a small blessing each day!
Eventually, after years of being single and randomly dating, God finally sent me ‘his’ choice. The day I expressed to you, “Mom, something is different about this guy,” you knew John was the one just by the tone in my voice. Then, you were determined to meet him even if it killed ya. Haha. Walking down that wedding aisle with dad was one of the highlights of my life. I looked straight ahead and there stood the man of my dreams before me. That wasn’t because of fate or good luck. That had been God working in our lives to bring us together. God knew we were perfect for each other. It’s exciting to know I’ll never be divorced again (I’ve already told John he’d have to kill & bury me in the backyard before I’d let him divorce me). Yayyy for me! *big smiles*
I carried on your tradition by taking Matthew to his first rock concert to see My Chemical Romance. John and I took Madison to her first rock concert to see Imagine Dragons. I got her front stage passes. Being step-parents has had its rewards and challenges. I know someday our kids will look back and remember all we did for them. In the end that’s all that matters. I didn’t truly understand or appreciate all you and dad did for me until a few years after I had moved out on my own.
Through every blessing and hurdle (and I’ve had many), you’ve been a big supporter in my life. I can’t thank you enough. On top of all that, you are selfless in every way. You helped me move countless times regardless of the physical pain you endured. No matter what you kept a smile upon your face. You’re a wonderful grandmother. You’ve been there for your grand-kids countless times (Matt, Madi, JD, Zach, Cohen, Avery, Lacy and Cannon). You’re also a fantastic Yorkie-sitter. You’re reliable and trustworthy in all things.
It baffles me when I hear of neglectful mothers who sacrifice visitation time with their children due to selfish desires, place a boyfriend’s needs before their kids, or worse – leave their children behind. I thank God for giving me you, a honorable self-sacrificing mother who unfailingly put her children first in life. You’ve always said, “You can pick on me but don’t you dare pick on my kids.” That is my motto too as a mother. On the flipside, children should never disregard their parents. Time is invaluable and we don’t know how much of it we have left in this life. It’s important to show your parents you love them. Sometimes kids are so busy with their hectic lives they often forget their parents are getting older….
As your daughter I am honored to say, “God blessed me with a kind, loving mother. She is the best mommy a daughter could ever hope for.” I love you with all my heart. Thank you for being YOU.
THE SIBLINGS – Melissa Ann, Michael John & Jennifer Lynn