A few true stories celebrating Mother's Day
I was thinking about what I wanted to post in honor of Mother's day this morning. I looked at some beautiful photos and quotes, but my mind kept going back in time to various memories, replaying them as I sit here looking out at the light rain coming down. I've got many remembrances in my mind at the moment, but the following are the ones that are nudging me just now...
I sat at my desk in grade school, my head down as the other kids were leaving for the day. Each of them handing in their math homework as they strolled by Mrs. Brown's table at the front of the room. I could hear their voices get fainter as they went down the hall, leaving me alone in the classroom with the tight knots in my stomach. Mrs. Brown got up and walked towards me, "May I have your homework, Peter?"
I couldn't look up at her, afraid at what she was going to do to me. Some of the kids told me she was mean and would write me up for detention or send me to the principals office. Billy told me I'd get expelled for sure. "Um... I didn't do it, Mrs. Brown."
"Why not, Peter? I told you this was an important assignment."
I was fidgeting in my seat and slowly pulled out the assignment papers from my bag and placed them in front of me. "I just don't get it, Mrs. Brown. I'm sorry. I read the part in the book that explains it over and over, but I just can't understand it."
She pulled up a desk beside me and sat down. "Why didn't you say anything when we were discussing it in class?"
"All the other kids get it. I don't want them laughing at me for being stupid."
She gave me a stern look, but I know I saw a smile she was trying to hold back, "Peter. We don't use the word stupid here, okay? Just because you are having a tough time with this doesn't mean you can't learn it." She pulled out a piece of paper from her bag and scribbled a note. She handed the note to me. "Please give this to your Grandmother. It's to let her know that you and I will be staying a little later after school each night for a week or so. I'll help you learn this in no time." She smiled, stood up and put the desk back. "You can go now, Peter. We'll start working on this tomorrow after school. I won't keep you too long. And please, if you have anymore trouble, come and tell me. You can wait until after school to tell me if it's easier."
I got up and went to the door, but turned around before I left. "Thank you, Mrs. Brown." I smiled back at her, and felt such a relief. Mrs. Brown worked with me until I understood, but her kindness showed me so much more than the math I didn't get. She didn't have to do that, but she did it without complaint and with genuine care. I also learned not to judge people based on gossip you hear, even from friends you trust. She is and always will be my favorite teacher. I kept in touch with her for many years and always appreciated the influence she had on my life.
All I remember was the complete chaos going on around me as I lay in the cold snow. I felt dizzy and nauseated as some men moved me on to a stretcher. I felt pain in my leg that shot in every direction. I could feel the bump on my head throbbing but I couldn't remember what had happened. Terror latched on to me and I started to try and get away but the men pushed me back down and told me to be still. There was a cuff on my arm and I saw red flashing lights off to the left. This had to be a nightmare. One of the men shouted to someone I couldn't see, "His leg is broken."
Then I saw my best friends mom standing over me, her face in a mist of steam from my labored breathing. She put her hand on my shoulder and said, "Hey sweetie. Are you back with us? You fell off your skis and hit your head. Your leg will need a cast, but you'll be ok, I promise. I'm going to go with you in the ambulance. I won't leave you." Her voice sounded fuzzy but I felt a little less terrified. She rode with me to the hospital, telling me funny things to try and keep me calm.
She held my hand at the hospital the whole time they examined me. I did need a cast and they kept me in the hospital because of my head injury. She stayed with me, holding my hand for hours until my grandparents could get to the town we were in. Whenever I would open my eyes, she was there with a smile, and would give me water or tell me a story. And she never let go of my hand. Not once. You don't have to be related by blood to be family, and she's still an important and wonderful part of my life.
I can't talk about some of the women who influenced my life, without talking about the woman who raised me, my wonderful Grandmother. In all the years we were together, I never once heard her complain about anything. She was my foundation, my inspiration, my guiding light, my Jiminy Cricket, teacher and... my mother. There are of course, so many wonderful memories of her and I could never finish writing them all. For whatever reason, this little one comes to mind.
It was a special occasion, I don't remember which one and that's not important. As usual, my Grandmother was cooking up a feast. She was an amazing cook and always made it look so darned easy. She'd spend hours in the kitchen. I can still hear her humming and singing as she went about creating another miracle. She'd let us help out, but never too much before she would shoo us out of her way. I set the table and after everyone arrived we all sat down and enjoyed the food, company and conversation.
After everyone had left, and we were done doing the dishes, she sat down at the table and asked me how everything turned out. Was the turkey moist enough, was the gravy nice and smooth. Things like that. i had stuff on my mind at the time, don't remember what, but I answered her with, "It was fine." I didn't even think about how I said it. I wasn't in the moment, my mind was elsewhere. I remember she hesitated, smiled and said, "Good, I'm glad." And then she went to bed. After all that work, that's what I said to her.
You know how you sometimes say something to someone, and you mean one thing but it doesn't come out right but you don't realize it at the time? Then later, you are thinking about it and wham! Like a cast iron frying pan to the back of your head, it hits you. All the work she did, and how wonderful everything was, and I said it was fine. Ugg. I thought about it all night and couldn't wait to talk to her in the morning.
I ran downstairs and she was already humming as she was making breakfast. I called her and she came out and we sat down. "Grandma, I just want you to know how good everything was yesterday. I don't think I told you that and I'm sorry. I hope you know how much we appreciate what you do. I hope you know how much I love you."
She smiled and then gave me a nice warm laugh. "Of course I know! Do you think I'd cook like this if it didn't make me feel so good?" And then she said something I've never forgotten. "We're family, Peter. The appreciation is built in." Then we stood up and she said, "Come here, you!" I walked to her and she gave me one of her wonderful hugs. I can still feel it now as I type this. "I love ya so much," she said.
From then on, I always made sure she knew how much I loved and appreciated her. Even during the times I'm sure I drove her crazy.
And so, on Mother's Day I'd like to thank all the wonderful women who have come into my life over the years. The ones who probably don't even know how much they influence us or how much they change our lives, simply by being just a little bit motherly when we need it most.
© 2015 Peter Noah Thomas ~ All Rights Reserved