Happy Mothers Day to all the mothers out there. Women who gave birth and women who loved as if they did. Women who helped raise children. Grandmothers who do double duty. Mothers Day is the day we celebrate the women in our lives who loved and nurtured us, even if at times we did not know that we were being loved and nurtured. I shudder to think of all the times that I caused my mother anxious moments, not that I ever misbehaved. I was the first child, so I was the experiment. She and Daddy were still just kids when I was born and not grown up when Laura came along and barely grown up when Larry rounded out our family. My parents often said they grew up along with us. Mother taught Laura and me so many things. We learned to cook and shared her joy in creating wonderful meals. (We laughed more than once that she did not know how to cook for less than half the town and her pots of chili were famous for lasting weeks, and weeks and then another week). She taught us needlework. She taught us to love the out doors. She taught us that family is the most important thing in the world.
It’s a funny thing. For girls, mothers are role models, for better or worse. We pattern ourselves after the women who raise us, or see their failures and vow to do better for our children. I was blessed to have a whole lot of strong women role models, but Mother was the primary one. I still strive to be the mother to my children that she was to me. Of course, there were all the times that I said to myself growing up, “I’m NOT going to be like MY mother. I will blah, blah, blah”. Then, lo and behold I DID IT JUST LIKE SHE DID! Hmmmm, maybe she did know what she was doing. Just like our grandmothers had for their children, our mothers had fears for us that we can’t even imagine. We had fears for our children that our grandchildren can’t fathom. My daughter has fears and worries for my granddaughter that I can’t understand. Since the beginning of time, mothers have worried about bringing children into their day’s world. But thank God, they did.
For women who are fortunate enough to have their mothers with them into adulthood, there is a bonus. At some point, you become friends. Oh, she is still your mother and more than willing to let you know when you’ve fallen short of the mark. (Hmmmmm, Linda, hmmmmmm. Did you mean for your hair to be that color or was it an accident.) But the raising of a daughter is done, and now she can be your friend. Laura and Mother got to make two trips to Hawaii together. Granted, after the first one, both came back vowing to “Never go anywhere with THAT woman again.” But they did. And I know that if we had the chance, both of us would go with her anywhere.
The last thing Laura and I got to do with Mother, was take her back to Alaska. Mother and Daddy fell in love with Alaska. They were died in the wool, true Razorback Red Arkansawyers, but they had a spot in their hearts for Alaska and spent several years there. When Daddy died, Mother took his ashes (eventually, he did stay in the attic for several years) to Alaska to be spread over the Brooks Range, his favorite place. Mother made us promise to take her when she died. And, eventually, we did (she stayed in a Disney cookie jar in Laura’s kitchen cabinet for a while). Anyway, a dear friend gave us the opportunity to take Mother’s ashes to Alaska. (Linda, it’s Mitzi. Would you and Laura like to take your mother to Alaska? Uh, Mitzi, mother is dead. I know that, do you want to take her ashes?) We drove all over Fairbanks, to the North Pole, Chena Hot Springs (with mother in the back seat) some of the places she enjoyed so much. We could not get up to the Brooks Range but went as far as we could until the paved road ran out. However, we could see it, and it is beautiful. Mother’s favorite place in Fairbanks was Creamers Field, a stopping point for migrating birds. She loved to take visitors there and she and Libby would ride bikes out to watch the birds when Lib went to visit. We were so fortunate. There were hundreds of birds of all sorts and shapes. The weather was beautiful. And one evening, with the mid-night sun shinning, we set Mother free to join the nature she so loved.