Ten years ago this month we celebrated our last Mother's Day with the woman who, all my life, I called "Mom." She was sick then, having been diagnosed the year before with the disease that took her life only a few months later. Ten years ago, we didn't know then how long we have with her. Turns out, not enough, never enough.
Today my sister posted a photo on Facebook of the family the way we looked only a few years after my father passed away. I've seen the picture before. In the summers after my dad died we took family vacations hiking in the Tetons. I still remember those hikes--they seemed long for a child. Imagine what they felt like to a single parent, but she toughed it out and made it the whole way. My mother came from pioneer stock, one tough lady.
Even though the photograph hasn't changed in over four decades, my perspective has. I see things differently now. When I now see the picture, I no longer immediately look at me, or my siblings. My eyes go directly to my mom and I can't help but try and put myself in her shoes, or how I would feel being responsible for raising three children, children she and another chose to adopt, and where one half of that decision couldn't see it fulfilled.
Would I be bitter? Would I make excuses?
Would I give up?
I'll never know. Fortunately for me, my partner was not taken from me when our children were small. Thank goodness! Of course, without her, I might have given up.
Tomorrow we celebrate one of the two people every person who's ever lived can claim as their own...mothers. I wish I could thank my mother in person; that will have to wait, but I can remember long hikes through some of the most beautiful scenery on Earth, when a newly-widowed single parent matched each step of her children and taught each of us, it's just another one of those things you do when someone calls you "Mom."
Happy Mother's Day to Mom, my beautiful wife, my mother-in-law, and all the mothers. We literally wouldn't be here without you.