For those of us who are blessed not to have lost our parents, it’s easy to take for granted that our mothers are still with us. Over the weekend I was lucky enough to spend Mother’s Day with my fantastic mom who, from the time I was born, has been my biggest cheerleader and just a genuinely great person. We chat on the phone regularly, have lunch dates and try to meet for coffee once a week where I usually harp endlessly about feeling like an unsuccessful writer. And her comments are always the same “You are an awesome writer. Keep working and give yourself a break.” I know that I am blessed and yet I take for granted that I can call, hug and cry to mom whenever I want. My hope is that she lives forever, because I couldn’t bear not having my best friend around. Unfortunately, parents die and the older I get, the clearer it becomes to me that every moment I have with my mom is a gift that I cannot afford take for granted. I’m sure it’s painfully clear for my mother who lost her own mom, my wonderful grandma, to a brain aneurysm five years ago.
It’s no surprise that mom turned out as fantastic as she did, she had a superb role model. My grandmother began her family in the ’50s and she was a poster girl for motherhood. After birthing seven children in the span of ten years, she devoted her life to caregiving and family. To the extent that most people would consider what she did to be complete and utter insanity.
My grandfather was a school teacher and because they both grew up during the Depression, they understood the value of reusing and saving. And save they did. Half of my grandfather’s salary was invested and saved while my grandma was left to feed, clothe and run a household on 50% of a teacher’s wage. They must have lived on like twenty bucks a week. But my grandmother never complained. She sewed clothing for her children out of Navy uniforms that my grandfather had worn in the military, baked bread daily, milked a goat and scrapbooked every moment of her children’s lives. She scrapbooked long before it was hip and she didn’t have pretty ribbon, stamps or fancy photos from a professional photographer. Her scrapbooks were full of snapshots glued to copy paper with her beautiful handwriting underneath each photo describing age, name and place. And the places weren’t mind blowing. There weren’t pics of extravagant vacations or weekly zoo trips; they were pics of their life on the farm. Black and white photos of her babies standing in front of their home or posing in their living room donning a floor length gown that my grandmother had helped them make.
She ground the wheat for their bread, used a wringer washer to clean their clothes and patched holes in pants that would have to suffice through four rambunctious boys. My grandmother was the epitome of what we all see in 1950’s magazines, a beautiful, and happy mama working long hours in her kitchen and out on her farm. As a grandmother, she was just as wonderful. Her house always smelled like bread and instead of buying all the grandkids birthday gifts, we would celebrate Unbirthdays where we would all get to choose an item she had made, something she had saved (there was a lot) or a toy that we really enjoyed playing with at her farmhouse. She was also a great quilter and gifted all of her grandchildren a quilt when they turned two and twelve. It wasn’t just any quilt either. She made sure to add your favorite color or an animal you loved and we all anxiously waited for those two birthdays at grandma’s house.
After my grandpa passed, she remarried and became a busy volunteer and traveler and even though she had relocated to a home that was fifteen minutes from my own, I didn’t visit much. I assumed that she was too busy to have me bring my two babies up for an entire afternoon, so I never did. The week she passed away, we saw her for a Christmas celebration, which we thankfully had planned a few days early, and I remember her soft grandma hug and the way she doted on my children. I just knew she would be around forever because she was the healthiest woman I had ever met. A marathon runner in her 60s and a healthy eater, I believed that she would hit 100 and have another twenty years in her. But she didn’t. On Christmas Day of that year, my grandmother died suddenly in her home with my mom rushing to her side only to watch the essence of her mother leave this planet forever.
After the funeral my mom confided in me that grandma had mentioned to her a few weeks earlier how much she wished that she had more visitors, but that no one seemed to come by after she moved from the farm. We had all thought she was too busy, but we should have known better because my grandma always had time for family. That was her life and now we had missed our window. That’s a window that I don’t ever want to miss again. This Mother’s Day, I celebrated with my mom and that is no small thing. My heart aches knowing that she doesn’t have the chance to hug her mom or bring her flowers anymore, that there is no more laughing together, and there are no more quilts to look forward to. That is how fast motherhood is over.
In my life, I never want to wish that I had driven up to my mom’s house for a visit, but instead chose to clean my bathroom or go for a run. When she is gone, I want to know that we spent every moment that we desired with each other and that nothing was left unsaid. We all deserve that kind of love.
Mandy Brasher has been married to her partner in crime for thirteen years and together they have two kids. She graduated from The Utah College of Massage Therapy and spent two years studying writing at Utah State University. She is currently working with her husband at their online apparel business, blogging daily and writing a book. After working as a licensed massage therapist in Las Vegas, she moved back to Utah to start a family and find a new career. Since then she has changed diapers, potty trained, worked as a barista and organized events for a non-profit. Mandy loves to travel, cook, do yoga and read. Follow her sass mouth and unexpected adventures.
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