Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Until We Meet Again, Mom Part 1

My mom in her younger years
I wanted to write about my mother at the time of her funeral but I just couldn't because the whole thing was just too unreal, the feelings too raw and recent. Three years have passed and I wanted to tell the world what a special lady she was. Probably, my words won't do that much justice and certainly one blog will never suffice but here goes.

Because I knew I would spend this memorial weekend with my girlfriend's family all the way over in Georgia, I visited my mom's grave the week before. It was a fun weekend. When I, saw this family having so much fun and showing so much love for one another, my mind drifted often to my mother.

Words that come to mind were selfless service, peacemaker, forgiving, sacrifice and love.   On the four hour drive back to Atlanta, I saw several things that reminded me of her.

One of the things I saw was a Cracker Barrel. That was one of the restaurants she used to take me and my sister to. It seems like a simple thing but for a woman with a fixed income of just over $500 per month, it's quite the sacrifice. Math says, on a $50 meal, it's one tenth of your income. Often she would save for months to throw a birthday party. It isn't until now that I realize the size of the sacrifice.
Our family Christmas party one week before I lost my hands

Another thing I saw was a car next to us with a Pennsylvania license plate. At a quick glance, it may seem like coincidence. From my perspective, the chances of a car with Pennsylvania plates driving in the middle of the night all the way in Southern Georgia at the same time that I was thinking of her was a sign. It reminded of her lowly upbringing as a foster child who had nothing but despite that, turned out so giving. There's one power that explains it, love.

Then a song by DRS talking about homies who have passed on starts blaring over the radio. "I tip my 40 to your memories..." Some of the passengers began talking about their passed homies. I'm thinking of my greatest homie ever. She was loyal and always there for me.

Then all of a sudden 'dear mama' by Tupac comes on. One previously obscure line in the song, stands out to me like never before. It goes, "all my childhood memories are full of the sweet things you did for me." Normally that line doesn't have much significance but for me, I've been trying to write a blog about my mother and write all my childhood memories and there are too many to write. My childhood memories are beyond full of the sweet things she did for me.

I wish she could have stuck around for my special smoked ribs. I didn't learn that recipe until after her passing.  She would have loved and bragged about them forever. She was my biggest fan and favorite cheerleader.

The first memory coming to my head, of my mother, is her picking me up from cleaning the theater. She had just punched out of her job at cleaning the ZCMI mall in downtown SLC and was driving the car with these white gloves. The plan was for her to drive over to the theater where I was helping my dad clean theaters and take me home. I would talk a lot to myself in my head, as a child, and still do. As I rode home with my mother, one of the conversations I had was a debate about why my mother was soooo nice and my father soooo mean. This lead to a conspiracy theory (you may or may not have noticed I come up with a lot of them) that my mom was my actual mom and my dad was adopted. I remember that night the feeling of love for my mom being so strong that I was love faded or high off of love. My brain was actually tingling. The white gloves stood out to me for some strange reason.

When she was working at the ZCMI mall as a janitor, mom would take us downtown often. One of her favorite treats to get us was a macadamia white chocolate chip cookie with this humongous white chocolate chip on top. When warmed up, i remember these cookies being absolutely delicious. She would also give us an allowance of 40 cents per week. I remembered going to the bank with her while she would cash her check and get change for all of us.

I remember a story, where one of my siblings was crying that he wanted a toy. My mother didn't have enough money to buy it but she loved to make us happy. Eventually, she did the wrong thing and shoplifted that toy for the crying sibling. She got caught. I don't remember the consequences but I do know that her love for her children and desire to make her kids happy was her highest priority.

Later on, she became diabetic from a prescription medication that destroyed her kidneys. Because of that, she lost her license and her kids became her personal Uber service. There was a house near by that had a drainage problem at the front curb because a section of their curb had sunk. Anytime they turned on their sprinkler, or it rained, or snowed, that sunken curb spot would build up a huge puddle. When I would give my mom a ride by that puddle I would put her passenger side tire in that puddle and splash that water on to the sidewalk. She would laugh and say, "Oh Sam!! You're silly!"

Her kidneys got worse and she needed dyalisis. As I would drive her around she would always buy me a Gatorade, herself a diet Pepsi, my sister a Gatorade and even the dogs got jerky sticks, even though it was a super sacrifice. I learned an important lesson from that. Her example taught me to be considerate of those around me. I try to be like her and if I'm in a group and want a treat, I try to make sure everybody gets a treat. 

This simple song reminds me of her:

“Give,” said the little stream,
“Give, oh, give! Give oh, give!”
“Give,” said the little stream,
As it hurried down the hill;
“I’m small, I know, but wherever I go
The fields grow greener still.”

Singing, singing all the day,
“Give away, oh! give away.”
Singing, singing all the day,
“Give, oh! give away.”

“Give,” said the little rain,
“Give, oh! give, give, oh! give.”
“Give,” said the little rain,
As it fell upon the flow’rs;
“I’ll raise their drooping heads again,”
As it fell upon the flow’rs.

Singing, singing all the day,
“Give away, oh! give away.”
Singing, singing all the day,
“Give, oh! give away.”

Give, then, as Jesus gives,
Give, oh! give, give, oh! give.
Give, then, as Jesus gives;

There is something all can give.
Do as the streams and blossoms do:
For God and others live.

Singing, singing all the day,
“Give away, oh! give away.”
Singing, singing all the day,
“Give, oh! give away.”

Although she was going through these trials, she always greeted people with a warm smile. Just like the song above, she would make the places she would go "greener still!" I think that is where I got that trait from. The church that we go to was "greener!" Even a place as miserable as the dialysis center, was "greener!"

Mom wasn't loud. She wasn't boisterous. She had little money. This didn't mean she wasn't powerful. If an effect on people's lives can be judged by the amount of people at their funeral, she was powerful beyond measure.
I actually wrote one verse in a rap song about her. You can hear it in this YouTube video at about 9:14 but here's the lyrics:
From the day I was conceived her body took a jolt/
Before I formed a heart we shared the same pulse/
Nine months in the womb she was my lifeline/
Continues to be throughout my lifetime/
Step out of line pops beat me up/
She broke it up with enough is enough/
And a cast iron pan raised in the air/
I guess she'd seen more than she could bare/
A planet sheltering her moons from an anger fueled sun/
If no one believed in me, I knew there was mums/
She never expects less than my best/
My mother made sure that love lined the nest/
Made the most with less and kicks from Payless/
Hamburger Helper and a warm place to rest/
As the sun sets and she approaches death/
She never give up She live on in my chest

Mom's favorite thing was to see her children happy. She loved the holidays, hugging her children, and hugging her grand children. Her recipes for carrot cake, turkey stuffing, zucchini bread, and trifle are super delicious because of one ingredient not written on any paper, love! Again, gifts from her to some may seem small, she often gave $20-$40, but they amounted to a huge percentage of her income. With five grand children and four children, it added up quickly to nearly two fifths of her income. It didn't matter to her though, her happiness came from giving.

She also was forgiving. One time I was pushing her in a wheelchair up the chapel sidewalk. It was icy and there was snow on the ground. I had my hooks on the handles and needed to pick up momentum. So I began a slow jog behind her chair. The right tire hit a huge chunk of ice which caused me to tip
the chair and she fell out of the chair. She could have got mad but she laughed. Mom would forgive in an instant.

I love this picture to the right. Over my shoulder is a picture of Jesus Christ. If our goal in this life is to become like him, she was the person that closest approached what I believe Christ was like. If I can be like her, I think I will be in good shape.