This will be the first Mother’s Day without my Mom. Don’t ask me when that becomes REAL in my brain, because I don’t know. It must be a defense mechanism, to block it out, because as soon as I let myself think about it for a minute I’m making that face that turns into the “ugly cry”. I suppose I’m normal, who knows. I do like thinking about all the ways she was such a great Mom to us 5 kids, though. Kent’s Mom is wonderful in so many ways, too, and I can’t even LET myself think about the day she won’t be here. Yes, Kent and I have both been very blessed.
For Mother’s Day I thought I’d share with you the 5 best gifts my Mom and my Mother-in-law have given us…
And I mean always and everywhere. She made every birthday and holiday special for us (even as adults), she was at every grandchild’s birth (and in the delivery room with us for our four kids), she (and Dad) were eager babysitters always ready and willing to spoil them, and as the grandkids grew, she was at every sporting or other event she could possibly make it to. She taught us many lifelong lessons about being good to others.
Here are the top five best gifts she has given us:
1. Mom taught us to always think the best of people, because you never know what they might be going through in their lives right now. (I sort of drive Kent crazy with this one sometimes because if he gets cut off in traffic and starts to rant, I’ll say, “Maybe he’s just absentminded because he’s on his way to visit his wife in the hospital!”)
2. Mom taught us the Golden Rule, and to do the right thing even when it’s not easy. There’s right and there’s wrong, period.
3. She taught us that God, family and friends come first, and you always help others when you’re needed. We watched her help others our whole lives, even at 79, 3 months prior to her diagnosis, she was taking meals to people around town or visiting her elderly friends who were sick and/or dying. (At 79 we still didn’t think of her as elderly at all yet. She didn’t even have gray hair, and looked exactly like this picture.)
4. This classic has always done me well: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” And another one of her famous lines that she’d use on us if ever we were worried about going somewhere was this one, “Just smile and be nice to everyone and you’ll do fine.” 🙂
5. One of the very best gifts from Mom and Dad is that they raised my brother and three sisters, who are a lot of fun to be with, and so are their spouses and kids. We often talk about how thankful we all are to like being with each other, when some families have nothing but turmoil between them.
Mom also drove us a little nuts at times, but don’t all Moms?! For example she was a cleaning freak, a trait none of us kids seemed to pick up on, LOL!
All of that is only a small part of the person she was, but you can see why she is SO sorely missed. Life just isn’t the same without my Mom here.
I can honestly say that Mary Ellen has never said anything even slightly offensive to me. Everyone loves visiting her because it’s relaxing there and she’s so easy to talk to. Our kids love going to Grandma’s house.
Here are the best gifts she has given us:
1. Ron and Mary Ellen raised five really good men, and one of the best gifts they gave their daughters-in-law was to teach them to cook, clean and do laundry. Kent has always helped with that stuff around here and doesn’t even act like there’s any other way. (How could I not love this woman, right?!)
2. They were a solid example of living out their faith when raising their boys. I never take for granted the fact that I am married to a man who loves the Lord. It means everything to me.
3. Mary Ellen never judges others and always makes people feel heard, loved, and valued. Because of this her kids and grandkids (and everyone really), want to be around her. She and Ron never pressured us to have to come there on holidays, they remembered how hard it was sometimes to hit both families in one day. But we rarely miss because we love being there.
4. They raised their boys in a firm (no tip-toeing around discipline there!) and loving home, that was also full of humor. We love being with Kent’s brothers, their wives, and all the kids, because they’re good, fun people, and they make us laugh. A lot. 🙂
5. Most of all, Ron and Mary Ellen taught our kids what marriage vows mean. Ron had Alzheimers and when Mary Ellen couldn’t care for him herself anymore, he was in a nursing home for years and didn’t know anyone. She went to see him every day. She shaved him, fed him, told him she loved him, and made sure he was well cared for (when the staff sees family there all the time and get to know them as friends, it makes a difference in their care). She is the ultimate example of sacrificial love.
I thank God for my Mom and my Mother-in-law, we are truly blessed. Happy Mother’s Day to Mary Ellen and to my Mom in heaven.
- Have you seen this book for Moms? (I’m a contributing author, thanks again for asking me, Lisa!) The Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul: