Ode to Mom

I just read a BBC write-up of Michelle Obama’s visit to an all girl school in London, and how she was moved during a performance. She was quoted as saying, “I was surrounded by extraordinary women in my life who taught me about quiet strength and dignity.” That got me thinking about my mom. And before she and I leave this planet, I want her to know, and really feel, the impact she has had on me as a human being.

My mom, Betty Miles, was divorced during most of my childhood. She raised five kids alone, and still carries a lot of guilt to this day that she didn’t give us more attention. I’ve tried to talk to her as an adult–how much attention can you give five kids when you are working more than one job trying to support us? And going to school for several of those years? She was amazing, and still is to this day. I have memories of going to her job at Winchell’s Donuts and helping to glaze the donuts at night. It was magical–are you kidding? Donuts at night that I made myself–get outta here!

From my mom, I learned many things. Most importantly, I learned that women are strong and intelligent. I learned that I can do anything I want to do if I’m willing to put the time and energy to make it happen. It was just never a question, and always a given. My mom helped inspire confidence in myself through her subtle belief in me.

My mom is one of the smartest people I know–she introduced me to computers and online games, believe it or not. I felt happy when I could finally introduce her to a virtual world she didn’t know. As a kid, she taught me the bones of the body while she was going through nursing school. She had this dead cat she had to keep refrigerated while she was learning its muscles. I was fascinated that she could be emotionally distanced from this formerly alive creature taking up residence where we kept our food. I loved her scientific mind.

We were always learning together. She bought me books, and workbooks, and I ate it up. As an adult in graduate school, she got me into the antique business. We went to sooo many flea markets, auctions, yard sales, and antique stores. To this day, I can still tell a good quality piece of furniture, whether a piece of china has been repaired, or whether those blue sunglasses are from the 60’s or used by snipers during the Civil War.

For the last 32 years, my mom and step-father have been caring for my brother, Charlie, who is severly disabled. Charlie is in and out of the hospital on a monthly basis. He would never have lived this long without their loving care. I look at her example of caring for a son she loves, her dedication and sacrifice. When they lost their aide, there was a point where she couldn’t leave home for months. Surely, I can learn from her example to be a better mother, friend, and wife.

Mom, I love you, your sense of humor, your intelligence, and even your eccentric ways. Your mind and spirit fascinate me and inspire me. I always hope you find happiness, and know that you are truly loved. I’m grateful for every moment you’ve given to me, and every moment I’ve been able to share with you. You are perfect, just the way you are.

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