I made the comment to my friend Nancy that although our mothers are both in heaven, we are lucky we had moms worth remembering. It is sad, but true, that today is not a joyous day for everyone, regardless of whether their mother is alive or dead. Some mothers are that in name only. It is merely a biological technicality, not a passion. Some mothers have so many personal problems and deficiencies that they can’t find enough joy and love in their hearts to share it with others, even their own children.
My own mother suffered from depression for years, but she tried not to let it have a negative impact on others. She talked openly about it. She wrote about it. She took her medicine and lived her life to the best of her ability. She was a great mom and we shared a love of children, animals, history, art, and words. In fact the first blog post I wrote was about Mother’s words. I added it as a page today. You may want to read it later.
One of the most important things I learned from my mom was to share. She began early, by sharing me with my grandmothers. I have the remarkable privilege of know the names of most of my female ancestors back to the 1600’s. There are several books that have been written about our family, so a lot of the information I have isn’t just dreary dates and places. Much of it is actual accounts of brave women who carved out a life in this new country with their mothers and sisters and children…lots of children. Several of my ancestors had 8-12 children.
I also had the privilege of personally knowing four of my grandmothers. Great-Granny, Clara Simmons, died when I was eleven. Bigg Mama, Edna Alexander, died when I was twenty-six; I can tell you exactly where I was and what I was doing when I got the phone call. Mama, Della Springer, died when I was thirty-five. Grandma Bea, Beatrice Simmons, died the year after Mom, when I was fifty. These are the moms who helped to raise me! And when they say that it takes a village…I needed these women AND my aunts and a few “adopted” moms to make me the woman I am today. My mother wasn’t about to let the limitations of her life limit who I could become. She didn’t neglect her responsibilities or expect anyone else to teach me about life, but she never resisted the opportunities I had to learn from other women. Even if she was depressed enough to display any sort of envy, she always got past it and we talked about it later when she was herself.
My own children may have been more influenced by my Grandma Bea’s teachings than my own, a fact that I neither regret nor envy. She was my rock, especially after my early first marriage ended in divorce. She took me in and gave me a home and helped me get my life back together at a time when it was impossible for me to return to my parents. I’m proud to say that she continued to be a part of our family through the good times as well. She was blessed to live long enough (a few days short of 92) to know her three great-great grandchildren!
So I am happy today that I am the result of generations of moms worth remembering, and that I remember some of them quite well. Granny was a stubborn, hard-working woman. She had a Grandma Moses print on her wall that was one of the early artistic influences of my life. I spent hours staring at that thing and asking her questions about it. Bigg Mama had a magical home and yard filled with flowers and food and laughter. I still remember talking with her while we watered her lilies. Della was one of the kindest, most faithful women I have ever met. She was witty and wise and practical. I loved to read her writing; I still do. Grandma Bea was a steadfast woman who never let any hardship or challenge keep her from her goal of a joyful life. She was the original “lemons=lemonade” woman.
I pray that there have been many women in your life who were or are moms worth remembering. Remember them today in your words, thoughts, and prayers. Happy Mother’s Day!!
Note: The first photo of mom was taken the year before I was born. The tall skinny woman is Granny. The little one with my curly hair is Bigg. And I still have the chair you see behind her! The one with the great smile is Della. The one with me is Bea.