Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Woman I Most Admire

She was born a curly, red-headed Irish-English Southern Belle in 1940. She taught us mind over matter, or Creative Visualization, before it was cool - in the early 1960s. Before we got a shot from the doctor, she’d say, “Close your eyes and think of your favorite thing." It always worked; we seldom cried. 

We didn't like doing chores. But she'd say “cleanliness is next to Godliness.” If that didn’t get us motivated, she’d walk into Dad’s closet, grab a belt for our butts. She only had to use it once. When we heard her walk toward Dad's closet, we got busy fast. 

When we broke our arm, got stitches or injured ourselves beyond any pain we knew, she’d remind us to “breathe – it’s only temporary. You’ll be all better soon. Just breathe. Think of your favorite thing. Breathe out the pain.” The meditation techniques I use today for clients, I got from my mother.

Always protective, always nurturing, always fair-minded, always our mother. She had eyes in the back of her head.  She always had time to talk with us.  She baked brownies, cookies, cakes as a treat when we got home from school.

Mom didn’t raise spoiled kids. We didn’t expect things. We earned them.

She forced us to see all sides of a story.

She clipped coupons, sewed our clothes, made our costumes, paid the bills, attended PTA every year, planned our family trips, cooked, cleaned, hosted adult dinner parties, was Brownie leader, Little League mom, our resident cheerleader, and helped us pursue our dreams or desires.

She always said: “All I’ve ever wanted is to raise good kids who know right from wrong and contribute to society and help others.”

She did. Until 1988, when my brother & sister were murdered.  We were all in our 20’s then and leading adult lives. Through all the grief, pain and loss, she held the banner of justice, compassion, community activist high. She fought for Crime Victims' Rights. She rallied with Justice For All. She stood with Houston's Parents of Murdered Children group.

She lobbied state legislators. She protested for justice - making posters until midnight sometimes, then standing on the street for hours, protesting against early release of parolees, defending justice, defending fellow homicide survivors. She cried with them, laughed with them, sat with them. She kept her sense of humor amid the pain. She's still funny today. She's the strongest woman I know. She was ahead-of-her-time.

Unlike most couples who experience the loss of a child, my parents have stayed together & remain strong for each other. We each learn about the world every day and the world beyond our touch. Mysterious miracles occur in our lives since that fateful day. We often joke about how things happened to us way before they were cool. Mom started that – she’s always been ahead of her time.

In Sept 2010, she was diagnosed with Stage IV Lymphoma. Radiation almost killed her. Chemo almost killed her. Her spirit is strong. And I'm thankful for it. I can't imagine life without my mom. To this day, she still cracks jokes, decorates rooms, loves to laugh, play, giggle and cuss like a sailor. She taught each of us that life isn’t just hard work, you got to have fun too.

My mom, her gifts, talents and ethereal wisdom have made me who I am today. I’m so thankful & proud of that. I'm so grateful she's still physically with us. Thanks Mom. I love you. Happy Mother’s Day. You deserve it.

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