Thanksgiving is in a week, and it just seems appropriate to post this now. I just hope my mother’s computer is working so she can read it also.
My mother isn’t someone who I often thank. Part of the reason why is every time I start to tell her something even somewhat sentimental, she’s in tears and can’t hear anything else anyways.
The conversation goes something like this:
“Hi, Jaime. How’s it going?”
“Good, Mom! Glad to hear from you. Did you know Ava is learning to crawl?”
The next 10 minutes will be spent bawling her eyes out, blowing her nose, and trying to speak. But she won’t be able to speak because she has a degenerative nervous disease that makes her muscles and lungs not work correctly. It will take quite a while just to regain her breath.
Doctors don’t know exactly what’s wrong with her, but sometime in 1979 she started losing her balance. She’d have headaches, and sometimes she’d see black spots in front of her. By 1981 or so, when I was in kindergarten, she was only walking around the house by holding on to walls and other furniture. There was no way for her to walk, unassisted. Not 2 years later, when my dad was stationed in Japan and we were with grandparents in New Jersey, Mom was given a wheelchair. She used the wheelchair, and from that point on, I can only remember one time that she would walk again.
Now this is hard to accept, especially when you are stubborn (yes, Mother I do love you, but you know it’s true!) and when you were used to moving around. Although, I tend to think, in retrospect, it was easier to lose her ability to walk, than it was to lose her ability to use her arms. Once she lost the ability to use her arms, she couldn’t cook, clean, paint or create. For a former art teacher and avid artist, that had to be difficult.
But she was the example of faith in the family. Faith that she would be healed completely someday, and that she would walk again.
One of the blessings of her disease was that she couldn’t really go anywhere. Some would argue that’s not a blessing, but to a teenager it was often a blessing to come home at whatever time of day or night and Mom was always there to listen. She’d ask about school, band, sports, and Seminary. She fully supported anything we chose to do, as long as it was in line with God’s teachings. When we fell off the path a little, she was the first one to see it, and help us back without any judgments or guilt trips.
Over the years I learned alot from my mother. She has a creative knack unparalleled. Many times she’d send us to the local craft store to get dried flowers, wreaths, hats, or fabric, and we’d create her vision. She took the time to explain what she wanted, and in turn we learned the skills necessary to complete the task. For a 10-year-old girl this was quite the education. At the time, we weren’t always thankful for the opportunity to create (yet another) floral hat. I am sure I complained plenty, but even today I use the skills I learned in my childhood with Mom.
I am thankful for learning patience and silent resistance from my mother-in-law who escaped the horrid dictator, Ceausescu, in Romania. I am thankful she taught her son correct principles, as he is a wonderful father and husband.
I am thankful for a Grandmother who remembered every holiday, birthday and graduation. She sent a thoughtful card on each occasion. She is the first one to call on Sunday afternoons, although lately due to Alzheimer’s she’s beginning to forget that. It’s sad, as she probably still hangs laundry out on the lawn and sweeps her walkways and driveways.
I am thankful for Aunt Patty, who is very much like a second mother. When I got a job in NYC and had to start the next day, she offered me free lodging and a wardrobe. I would have never been able to take the job without her. Over the years, she’s been incredibly generous and loving. She is often the voice of reason in the family. We all appreciate her and all she does. Her work ethic is unparalleled and has been another good example to me.
I am thankful for the many sisters in my ward who are fabulous mothers. They teach me through example much more than they know.
I am thankful for my sister who is wonderful example of Christ-like mothering in the world today. She’s my sanity, and my phone-a-friend when I can’t figure out what to do next with Ava. Who else would I call at 11pm when Ava’s fussing?
Most of all, I am thankful for my daughter and the opportunity I have to be a mother. She is amazing and beautiful. The light in her eyes brings intense joy into my family. In the short 6 months she’s been on the earth, I have learned more about Heavenly Father and His plan for us, than I have in 30 years of scripture study. I’ve learned what love truly is. I am thankful for that, and I am thankful for my husband and a loving Heavenly Father, who makes this all possible.