"Say what you have to say, and not what you ought."
~ Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Mom

The approach of every holiday this past year has made me feel mostly dread at the feelings and sadness sure to surface on the day.  Mother's Day wasn't any different.  I couldn't help but think of my mom and what a bittersweet day it would be for her.  How on earth would my expressions of love and appreciation even begin to lessen the sadness and grief the day would surely bring?  Of course, there's no way I can make her loss hurt any less.  

This year I've gained a new found respect and appreciation for my mom as I've watched her grieve and work hard at her own journey of healing while at the same time loving and nurturing her children through our grief.  I'm so lucky to have her to talk to in such a real, honest way about so many things.  Sometimes my mom will say the simplest, yet most profound thing that really helps me gain perspective on something I'm struggling with.  She knows many things about me that I'm sure she'd rather not, but she always listens and doesn't judge.

I learned long ago not take my relationship with my mom for granted.  It's a relationship we've both had to work at, because at the tender age of 14, I moved away from her. Shortly after my parent's divorce, my mom moved back to Colorado with the five of us kids.  An ugly custody battle ensued.  The judge hearing our case let me and my older brother who was 16, choose where we wanted to live.  Being a teenager, of course I chose to live in Utah with my dad.  What teenager wouldn't?  Who at that age wants to leave their friends and start over in a new state, in a new school?  It was years before I realized how devastating my choice must have been to my mom.  I can't imagine my own daughter choosing to live without me, 600 miles away during some of the most formative years of her life.  At the time it didn't occur to me that she wouldn't be there to see me off for my first date, or to sew my prom dresses, or to give me advice on how to walk in high heels, wear make-up and do my hair, and how to handle all the many dramas that are part of a teenage girl's life.  Even today, it's hard for me to think about how many moments, both big and small, we missed out on during those years.  I often wonder what a different person I'd be if I'd lived with my mom during those years instead of my dad.  

I realize though, my mom's influence on me is strong.  She's an amazingly strong, smart, independent woman who has accomplished much in her life.  She had five children in ten years, nursed every one of us, diapered us in cloth diapers, sewed many of our clothes by hand, canned fruits and vegetables, made homemade laundry soap, and put hot meals on the table for us nearly every night.  My dad was a schoolteacher so we didn't have a lot of money, but honestly, not once during my childhood did I feel deprived. 

Later, as a single mom who had been out of the workforce for 15+ years, she worked as a school secretary and returned to college for her teaching certificate.  Those were the years I didn't live with my mom, seeing her only on holidays and several weeks each summer, so I didn't experience the daily struggle and worries about money she lived with for years.  Those years were really tough for her.  Eventually, she got her degree, started teaching, remarried and life stabilized.  

One thing that has never changed through all the years is that no matter her circumstances, my mom has always been able to create a warm, inviting home that people like to come to.  I looked forward to going "home" to mom's no matter the address.  To this day, the moment I walk into her house, I feel a subtle emotional shift inside, and I relax knowing I'm home with mom.

My sister Amy and I
with our babies and our mom - Thanksgiving 1998
There have been a few cherished people in my life that have made the last twelve months somehow more bearable for me.  Without them, I don't know where I'd be.  They've given me love, encouragement, words of wisdom, have let me cry when I needed, listened to me rage at the unfairness, have helped me find clarity in the midst of a very confusing time, and have reminded me to laugh and continue living my life to the fullest.  My mom is one of those people.  For that, and for thousands of other reasons, I love her. 


  1. Keicha, we've had great losses, but love is stronger than any outside force that has tried to bring us down. I love you more than you can ever know.

  2. What a beautiful tribute to your mom. I am moved by your story, and how your separation affected you as well as her, and why it happened that way. It seems that the love you have for each other is stronger than any distance.

  3. Keicha, I've read your mom's blog for a few months, and I've really come to admire her. Obviously, she has passed along some very good traits.

    Life is not always easy, is it? But if we hang in there, it is always amazing!

    Beautiful post. :)

  4. This is such a beautiful tribute to your mom, Keicha and for you, too. You have all been so supportive and loving of each other and showing us all how to cope with tragedy.

  5. Keicha,
    This was the best Mother's Day gift you could give to your mother. Looks like she's passed on her gift for writing to you also.

  6. What a beautiful post and tribute to your Mom. The perfect gift. Those separate years can' be regained, but the closeness you two share survived.

  7. Keicha, this is such a lovely post. If I were your mom I would keep it as one of the best gifts of my life.

  8. Such a lovely tribute, Keicha! I know the tremendous blessing it was for your mom. It's amazing and wonderful how much your story-telling style is like hers.


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