Words from my heart
My mom, Laura Lily, turned ninety-three this month and she’s doing well. She even passed her driver license renewal test! In honor of her birthday, I’m sharing a shortened version of the letter I submitted to the 1991 Fresno Bee Mother’s Day Essay contest—the first and only writing contest I’ve ever entered. So glad I did because the letter won grand prize, treating mom to a shopping spree at Macy’s and a makeover at Impresario Salon.
The letter still holds true. Happy Birthday, mom!
This morning after I finished washing the breakfast dishes, I began massaging a generous dose of lotion into my dry hands. I found myself staring at them in amazement—they looked just like yours! As I stood there, I thought about all your hands have done for me. Now that I’m a mother, it means much, much more.
From the beginning, your hands were there to change my dirty diapers, feed me tapioca pudding, dress me in new Easter outfits, and comb my often too-short hair. Tears were also gently wiped away, tears caused from minor bumps and tumbles, and from a few broken hearts (you always said I had too many boyfriends).
Oh, and I remember vividly the way you would wash our kitchen and bathroom floors. There you’d be, on your knees, trying to avenge every bit of dirt and grime within reach. I don’t think you ever used rubber gloves for protection from the cleansers. They would have only hindered your determined efforts.
Years have since passed, and I’m raising my own children. My hands get tired from trying to accomplish the daily chores, and though I don’t like to admit it, I’m often too tired to give needed hugs.
But then I think of you.
You were always there, ready and willing to hold me when I needed you. You had time. That has been a priceless gift. I also appreciate the way you were able to let go of me as I was growing up, making it possible for me to become who I was meant to be.
Mom, you have shown genuine concern for my life with the wonderful ability to not interfere. From the time of my birth to this day, you have loved and supported me with the help of two gentle (and sometimes firm) hands.
I love you and am thankful for all you have done.
One more thing. I don’t like using rubber gloves either. It just doesn’t seem like dishes, toilets or floors get quite as clean.
Hmm. I wonder where I learned that.
Photo courtesy of Charis Pauls (my sister)