Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Happy Mother’s Day

I sure am glad I did not forget today.  But it was apparent this morning, while at the grocery store to get some breakfast items, there were many who definitely did not remember today.  And to say it was a gender issue, with the majority of customers being men (probably 95%), is an understatement.  Yep, so many just remembered this morning in fact, today is Mother’s Day.  Fortunately, Publix was prepared to bail out the absent-minded gentlemen.  Their reputations for being the most thoughtful would be saved.

I live quite a distance from my mother, so I was reliant on the United States Postal Service to get my gift to my mother in time.  That required me to remember at least a week in advance.

I have written about the relationship between my mother and I over the years.  While not the typical “Norman Rockwell” portrait of a family, our relationship is what we have made it today.  And that is what counts.

Yes, we rely on Moms to take care of our bumps and bruises, help us with homework, and cook some of the greatest Macaroni and Cheese, but it is in adulthood that we really get the chance to see the true value of “mom.”  And then “mom” realizes her role changes as well.

My mother has gone through a lot with me as her son.  And though really I cannot take all the blame for it, because of the many health issues I have, it kind of does make it my fault.  Unlike as a child though, the care of my “bumps and bruises” as an adult are now handled by me.  For the most part, I make her sit on the sidelines, watching, trying to coach from the bench, cheering me on.  And I know she wants to do more.

I feel she has more important things to do now as my mother, at least more important to me.  At some point in a mother’s life, there is a good chance she is going to take on a new role, grandmother.  Now, while today is Mother’s Day, my mother’s role as a grandmother is important to me.

During my early childhood days, my mother had to work second shift jobs.  Which meant after I came home from school, my grandmother took care me during the week.  The majority of my childhood years spent with my grandmother, was probably the most critical period of my life as there was so much that I learned from her, not just the every day stuff, but lessons in life.  But I also grew very close to my grandmother.

Not only would my grandmother become my moral compass in life, she was the most important inspiration to me when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  She was the first cancer survivor I had ever known.  And I knew that if she could do it, I would follow in her footstep, even using the same oncologist.  Of course we know how this story has played out.  I am currently a 27 year survivor.

When she passed away, it really hit me, what I had lost.  I realized just how important a role she played in my life.

But as an adult, I witnessed other grandparents in action.  So many were just so proud to show off their grandkids and all the memories that they were making.  And the pictures all showed the same thing, huge smiles from the grandchild looking up at either “poppop” or playing with grandma.

As a parent, I witnessed this new bond and its importance first hand.  My children loved my father, and love my mother.  Right from the beginning, I made it a point to make sure that both of my parents, even though divorced, would each play an important role in my daughters’ lives.  When it came time for visits, both of my daughters were eager to make the hour long drive to visit both of my parents in each of their homes.  They greeted my parents with excited hugs and kisses, and lots of giggles.  And when it came time to leave, my daughters left with the biggest hugs and “can’t wait to see you again” kisses goodbye.  My daughters valued my parents as much as I valued my mother’s mother.

In recent times, the role of grandmother and mother have combined in a huge way, and what I once thought was impossible.  Two years ago, my mother gave me the surprise of a lifetime.  Not only was she going to get on a plane and fly to visit me, she was bringing two very important co-passengers… her granddaughters, my daughters.

It was the first time my mother had flown.  It also gave my mother some very special time with her granddaughters and vise versa.  This trip has been repeated, and will continue.  This is a special thing between my daughters and my mother, their grandmother, something all will always remember, especially me.

The best gift I could give my mother is the appreciation I have, for all the love and kindness she gives and shares with my daughters every chance she gets.  To know how much she means to my daughters, and my daughters to her, is what means the most to me at this point in my life.

I know today is supposed to be a happy one, lots of flowers, making breakfast for mom, taking mom to dinner.  And of course, flowers and cake.

But my heart goes out to so many too, who grieve on this day.  Because of my circumstances and age, I know so many today who grieve for their mothers.  And a totally different sorrow, mothers who grieve the loss of their child.  If there is any solace, it is seeing the memories that they have been sharing today, that clearly show how much each other meant in their lives, and there are happy memories to remember them by.  And it is my hope, that they can still find the ability to celebrate that love today.  Because at one time, this day meant something special in the physical sense, it should mean just as much in the spiritual sense and memories.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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