I’m finally getting around to writing about Mother’s Day. I bet they thought I forgot. No way! Just hasn’t been the right time.
BF and I share many commonalities within our individual childhoods. We were both raised in a small town/farming community, were mostly poor, had only same-sex siblings, and most importantly, were blessed with loving, good old-fashioned moms.
Not too long ago, my mother, Maggie followed love to Ohio and wound up living a short drive from BF’s mom, Eileen. Oddly, we Arnold girls have a strange draw toward Ohio men. This goes way back. Anyway, to celebrate Mother’s Day, taking my sister Karen along for the ride, we drove to Ohio for a visit. In an attempt to make it a special day, on Sunday morning, we each joined our own mother for Sunday services at their respective churches. It was truly a special day for all of us.
While our mothers have personalities that are quite different, they share many likenesses. Our moms love to cook and they are good at it. They are health conscious and attempt to make healthy choices when it comes to food. Both can create total yummy-ness from a bag of fresh coconut. Maggie’s coconut cream pies, with the tiny golden sugar beads atop the meringue, are famous among all who know her. Eileen’s made-from-scratch yellow coconut cake tops the list of family favorites.
Both moms have spent a lifetime sharing love through food and many have benefited from their gift of hospitality. BF and I grew up in homes with an open-table policy . . . all were welcomed. Sharing of food was not limited, however, to their own homes; their crock pots and Tupperware have graced the kitchens of family, dear friends, and community members who were celebrating, mourning, or just needing a lift. My mom and my mother-in-law have participated in more funeral dinners than anyone I know. I’ve never moved without my mom showing up with a crock pot full of Sloppy Joes. I would never have made it through my chemotherapy without Eileen’s raisin bread. To our mothers, love and concern is often expressed through the gift of delicious food.
Our moms are both caregivers, going above and beyond what might be expected for the sick and the elderly. If I wrote about the 10-year streak that Maggie has had caring for the sick and dying among those she loved, we’d all be depressed for a month. Let’s just say, the woman deserves a Florence Nightingale Medal. I was touched and impressed as I observed Eileen’s care for her love, John throughout his illness and passing. As far as I know, neither of these women have ever attended a single class in nursing, but you’d never know it when a loved one is sick and they kick into gear.
Eileen and Maggie are wonderful Grandmas. Eileen shared her excitement for butterflies with her grandchildren, making sure they all experienced the joy of watching a butterfly break out of its cocoon. She celebrates Christmas by taking her young grandchildren shopping, each selecting gifts and filling a shoe box to give to a less fortunate child rather than trading gifts. As young adults, Becky and Katie always want Grandma to make them “egg in the middle” for breakfast when we visit. Maggie gave Jessica and Michael their first baths and later taught them to play ping pong. The messes they made while making cookies or playing at her house were never an issue. She did draw the line once when she found Jessica and my two nieces in her walk-in closet with my dad’s best suits in a heap on the floor. They were playing dry cleaner.
These two women are totally devoted to God and their religion. They are faithful in practice, reading their Bibles and praying daily while being active members of their churches. They are humble, not realizing how truly gifted they are, and remain impressive examples of women who are true and steadfast in their beliefs.
They are conservative, tea-totallers who hold fast to traditional female roles. Maggie and I have had a loving, life long stand-off about those roles. It used to absolutely fry me when my dad would drain his iced tea glass at the dinner table and she’d jump up to fill it. I often overstepped my bounds and mouthed off about it and luckily she never back handed me. She told me once that if I wasn’t careful about being too open-minded, by brain might fall out. Conversely, I have gingerly accused her at times of being judgemental. I think Eileen didn’t quite know what to think when her son drug home this 40-something chick, who certainly seemed nice enough and shared many of her values, but sported a tattoo and a belly ring. What was a mother to do?
I am far from sharing twin brains or ideas with either of these women, but when my life is over, if I might be compared to either Maggie or Eileen when it comes to strength, stamina, devotion to family, honesty, and expression of love to others, I will be mightily proud.