58 Little Love Letters

For my Mom on her birthday – which was yesterday – 58 Little Love Letters:

  1. I took more than 24 hours to make my way out of you and into this world. Having never experienced a single labor pain, I can only imagine how that must’ve felt – but I know, even from the way you look at me now, that the pain of that delivery wasn’t the part that lasted.
  2. The doctors believed that there was something wrong.  I was too small to have been born right on time.  You told them that I was a perfect fit for the cradle of your arms.
  3. I learned to talk too soon, and never stopped.  Even when I wore (and wear) you out, you’ve never told me to shut up.
  4. You gave me fathers and sisters, and those relationships have shaped every other connection in my life.
  5. You are the most intelligent, generous, beautiful woman in my world.
  6. You taught me the weight of, “I love you,” and the resilience of, “I mean it.”
  7. You laugh when I’m trying to be funny, which helps me to stop trying so hard.
  8. In 3rd Grade, I got an A on my fifth book report, which meant that I was excused from writing them for the rest of the quarter.  You let me know that you were disappointed, because the A didn’t mean anything if I hadn’t actually read the book.
  9. You make hard, brave choices.  You were making them on my behalf long before I understood…and the more I understand, the more grateful I become.
  10. You let Lindsey and me walk to Butler’s Corner Store and spend our church money on gummy worms and candy cigarettes.
  11. You wore that red sweater with the black bows and the rhinestones like an 80’s queen.
  12. Same goes for the pink dress at my first communion.
  13. In 1st Grade, when I shut the lights off and purposely led Lindsey into the thick, wooden arm of an old chair and gave her a black eye (I didn’t know that would happen) the night before church pictures – you made me look at the deep swelling, painful mark I put on my sister and feel the hurt of causing real damage to someone you love.  The following day you dressed us both in our Sunday best and sat as proud and lovely as could be, with both of us.
  14. You took us to the beach – even on school days.
  15. From Kindergarten through post-graduate degree, you’ve always come to everything.
  16. You let me blame you for the divorce – you took all the anger and hurt and misery I could dish out, without ever throwing it back.
  17. Even when I blamed you (and only you) – you’d put on the Fine Young Cannibals, You Drive Me Crazy, and when it was safe, steer the car slowly and dramatically from side to side – just enough to shift the energy and crack some smiles.
  18. You tell the truth – even when it’s not what I want to hear.
  19. No one on the planet has ever worn a red leather jacket and matching Isotoners better…including Michael Jackson.
  20. When I came home upset after the first day of Kindergarten because, “everyone doesn’t like me!” You reminded me, they don’t have to.
  21. You have always loved all of your girls as if each of us is your favorite.
  22. When you found out that you had breast cancer you called me to help look for doctors – not because you needed my help – but because you knew that I needed to feel like I could help.
  23. When I called you that day I was riddled with depression – terrified to walk into work – petrified I’d be revealed for the nobody I was – you didn’t try to fix it.  Instead you told me how you understood, completely, and I believed you – which also made it possible to hear you say that it would be okay.
  24. Too many birthday dinners to record – but regardless if the request was Julia Child’s Caesar Salad or Mrs. Bud’s Chicken Pot Pie, you made it special.
  25. That time when you were pregnant with Teresa – a high-risk pregnancy following multiple miscarriages – and I was 14 and told you that I was working so hard at school because I didn’t want to be stuck in this small nothing town and this stupid boring house…and all you did was hit me with a couch pillow.
  26. For showing me how to dig in and work hard and know what I’m worth.
  27. When the doctors had to save my baby and me with an emergency c-section and I asked you to please go with Kenny to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to meet our 2lb boy, and when you did, you brought your camera and brought the pictures to me in recovery and told me again and again to look and see how Briggs was absolutely perfect.
  28. When Briggs still wasn’t out of the NICU, and I didn’t really know how to function outside of his hospital room, but I stopped in at the BBQ at the Cooks’ anyway and suffered an all-out panic attack and you came and cried with me outside of my car.  I said, “You don’t know what it’s like to be separated from your baby like this, so soon, for so long.”  And you said, “I know how it feels when you can’t take your baby’s pain away.  You’re still mine and I’m right here feeling all of it.”  And we cried until breathing felt good again, and I found peace in the truth that being a Mom is forever.
  29. When you wouldn’t let me buy a bridesmaid’s gown for my wedding dress (I thought I wanted a colored gown, but you knew I deserved to feel like a bride.)
  30. Your Chex Party Mix.  The one.  The only.  The original.  It should be a crime for anyone else to even attempt.
  31. The way you you treasure, and look at, and hold on to your grandsons.
  32. The way you treasure, and look at, and hold on to all of us.
  33. Card games – for teaching us so many and knowing when it was time to stop letting us win.
  34. For the love of reading and the peace of the library.
  35. When you took Lindsey and me to Meme’s funeral – after the divorce – regardless of how awkward it could have been.
  36. For teaching me that your in-laws are your parents, and loving them as such is a gift not to be passed up.
  37. For being you – and showing me how to be me – even when it cramps someone else’s style.
  38. For the baptisms and the house smudging.
  39. When that boy not only really broke my heart, but left me broke and scared…and you wanted to destroy him…but didn’t.
  40. Taking my husband as your first son.
  41. Giving me my own moment with each of my new baby sisters…it was my first introduction to being a Mom.
  42. Giving me permission to find my own name and my own way.
  43. Hand sewing those trick-or-treat bags that were passed down through the four of us, and then on to our own kiddos.
  44. Your Mom missed her chance to be your Mom – but you never let that stop you from being the best Mom to me, Lindsey, Maria, and Teresa.
  45. In high school, when I told you that I needed a mental health day, you always granted me one.
  46. Oh my goodness – your skin.  Thanks for passing that down to me. 🙂
  47. Never giving me any shit about my cheap, questionable tattoo.
  48. For being everyone’s rock when it was Papa’s time to go.
  49. Always encouraging me to write.
  50. Your embrace continues to convince my entire being that all is well.  Regardless.
  51. You make me feel smart – even when I do dumb things.
  52. I treated your house like my own personal dumping grounds for decades and you still never kicked me out.
  53. The Cabbage Patch, Bert and Ernie, My Little Pony, Barney, and every other single cake and pie you’ve ever baked to celebrate the births of your babies.
  54. The entire 18 months when you lovingly volunteered your ONLY day off of the entire week to be with Briggs – providing me the chance to return to work, even though Briggs wasn’t yet healthy enough to go to daycare.
  55. For coming to my plays and reading my stuff…especially when no one else cares to.
  56. That lift in your voice when I call – it reminds me that I’m enough.
  57. For being not only my Mom, or our Mom, but a Mom in our world who genuinely loves and cares for every child who comes your way.
  58.  Thank you for being you – you’re the only one here who can and we need you.IMG_2239

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