As mentioned in a prior post, Eastern Caribbean Cruise, my mom is an amazing person. Her life experience could fill a book or two. While I lack the perspective necessary to tell her story and do it justice, I can share what I know about her through my experience as her son.
With few exceptions, my mom has always been a strong person. Her parents divorced when she was very young and she helped raise her brothers. She married at the early age of forteen (14) and had six children (two died at birth). Eventually, the marriage ended in separation and divorce, with the four remaining children living with their dad. Then she married my dad, who had one child from a prior marriage. I was born next (the oldest between my mom and dad) followed by a younger brother and sister. Again, the marriage ended in divorce. She married a third time, which also failed within a couple years. Finally, she found the right man for her and she married a forth time (this time with her soulmate). She has been happily married ever since.
While still married to my dad, my oldest brother (my mom’s first born) came to live with us. With another brother (my dad’s first born) and the addition of my younger brother and sister, we kids numbered five (5) under one roof. Seven (7), as a family, if you include my mom and dad in the headcount. We were not rich, by any stretch of the imagination, and had to “tighten our belt” on more than one occasion; but, mom and dad always managed to provide for our needs and a few of our wants.
When I was young, my dad and I were not very close. We rarely saw eye-to-eye with each other and I always felt I was letting him down and was nothing but a big disappointment to him. On the other hand, my mom and I have always had a very close relationship. She was (and still is) very supportive of me and a great encouragement.
My mom is extremely intelligent. She is also well read. An entire wall in our living room had been converted to a bookcase by my dad and my mom’s books filled every shelf. She always encouraged me and my siblings to read. In fact, my mom had taught me how to read before I entered kindergarten. I still remember the book: The Cat in the Hat. In addition to her many works of fiction, I use to love to read through multiple volumes of the many encyclopedia sets she owned. That is how I developed interest in what would become my first love: astrophysics. Science (in general), math, and computers soon followed. Of course, my mom encouraged me through it all.
Besides being one of the smartest people I know, my mom is also very empathetic. Going well beyond mere sympathy, she always seemed to know eactly what I was feeling, at any given time, as if she were feeling it too. This quality made it very easy for us to communicate effectively with each other no matter what the topic. Through her, I learned to love and have empathy towards others.
My mom also encouraged my imagination, to think without artificial boundaries or limits. Today they use the term “think outside the box.” My mom had me thinking outside the box years before that term became popular. The ability to think creatively and abstractly at such an early age was a factor in my love for astrophysics “transmogrifying” – thanks Calvin – into an even greater love for theoretical astrophysics.
My mom is extremely well rounded. Besides her many assets (only a few of which have I mentioned) she has a deep love and gift of music and art. And you guessed it… she encouraged the same in me and my siblings. She is very talented musically. She use to play accordion in a band for Dick Curless as well as going solo on occasion. Later, she formed her own bands (forming many over the years), and eventually switched to playing the electric piano/organ. One of her bass players gave me my first guitar, starting yet another adventure in my life. My mom is very artistic as well. She is very skilled at drawing, charcoal, pastels, and water and oil painting. I get my love of music and art from her.
As you can tell, I think very highly of my mom and love her very much. Much of who and what I am I owe to her love, support, and encouragement. Today, she is being robbed.
My mom has lung cancer. She was first diagnosed over five years ago. The doctors removed part of her lung and she made a speedy recovery although she has lived with pain and difficulty breathing ever since. Unfortunately, her cancer has returned. She has decided not to fight it this time. Instead, she has prepared herself, and her loved ones, to let it run its course. Her pain has continued to increase, her breathing has become more labored, and she is now under the care of hospice. The cancer has robbed her of her vitality.
She remains upbeat despite her circumstances. She is still one of the smartest people I know (I recently learned you are suppose to put a covered cookiesheet under a dish, when baking in the oven, to catch any spillage). She is still very supportive and encouraging (she constantly worries about me and my bouts with depression). She still loves. She still touches the lives of others.
When the cancer eventually robs her of her last breath, the world will have lost one of its natural wonders. My mom is an amazing person. Whether in this world or the next, she will always be with me.