I don't have an amazing memory. I count on my sister to remember most of the things from childhood, but there are a few things I remember vividly. I remember sitting in church one Sunday, playing with my Mom's hands. I was tracing the lines in her palms to keep my hands busy and quiet. I remember looking at her hands and realizing the roughness of them. There was no fresh manicure or polish, her nails were hard and strong and her palms were callused. At that moment, I didn't think much of it, but I noticed and I remembered. I have recalled those rough hands many times.
I also remember sitting in our old station wagon, watching her rototilling a big, rocky lot my real estate broker Dad had listed for sale. For some reason, it had to get done that day and Dad was working on another project so without hesitation, Mom got it done.
I remember driving past an older woman's home in summer months. It was hot outside and she was out mowing her small lawn. Again, mom had a station wagon full of little kids, but she pulled the car over and talked to the woman for a few minutes. The next thing we knew, the woman headed back inside and we watched as Mom finished mowing her lawn.
I watched her stand on a ladder to hang Christmas lights when she was 7 months pregnant with twins. I remember all of her weekend projects--painting, moving furniture, yard work and chopping and stacking wood at her parents home.
I watched her gracefully endure the ups and downs or marriage, finances and life. She protected her kids from the hard things while working endlessly to make them better.
I have watched my mom "mother" countless friends and family members. Being wise and gentle, firm and encouraging. Being a soft place to land and the motivation to get back on your feet.
I watched her send her 2 sons away. One into the coast guard for long periods of time and one to serve in Italy for 2 years for a church mission. I watched her smile through it all and be nothing but supportive and loving as they pursued the things that set their souls on fire.
I watched her bury a son that she loved with her whole heart. I saw her love my Dad through that enormous pain and watched her gracefully navigate that trial. She was (and always is) a soft spot to every aching heart that needed her-- although her heart ached the same.
I remember watching her lose her own wonderful Father unexpectedly. She sat by his bedside and held his hand as she comforted her grieving mother.
She has supported her siblings and children in every trial, big or small. She always shows up. You can count on that.
As it turns out, she earned those rough hands. I am so thankful for her unending example. To be hers is my biggest blessing. Nothing in this whole world can compare to a good Mother. I do my best to keep callused hands, in her honor. Happy Mother's Day, Mom.