Mom: I Always Knew I’d Miss You . . .


I guess I did know when I stood on this same porch all those years ago, and I took commemorative photos in the yard July 25, 1990, I would never live at this address or in the same town as you for the rest of my life. 

I guess I had somehow thought I’d counted the cost of spreading my wings and taking flight. Your 23 plus years preceding that moment — of loving me, teaching me, chiding me, disciplining me, laughing with me, and guiding me had attempted to prepare me for whatever I’d face once I stepped off that porch as a full time resident of your home.

I guess I thought I was ready for the many years of phone calls, cards you learned to make yourself, occasional surprise care packages, short visits to wherever I’d moved to next, and the ever-heart-in-my-throat moments with my bladder fairly bursting as I always made those last 100 or so miles to your house at breakneck speed, because I couldn't bear to make another potty stop when I knew the Louisville exit off Route 62 was almost in sight. 

I’d reluctantly slow to the final left hand turn signal, leave the pavement for the gravel driveway, and try to remember Dad said not to drive too fast to stir up dust — when all I really ever wanted to do upon arriving “home home” is fly up to that now green house (when I left it was white brick, but the outside doesn’t really matter anyway), burst in the front door and smell the place I still hold tenderly in my heart. 

I guess I thought I knew what to expect when I lost sight of that house and its people for the first long time in 1990. The days, weeks, months, and years of missing it, but so much more missing what you made of it. For the address is nothing without you. Dad has loved this land, but he would have no need of it without you to share it. 

The house would be a shell without your laugh, your crafty touch, your meals simmering and sometimes burning on the stove, because you got sidetracked with something else and left the burner on too high. The yard would be colorless without your desire for pretty things to surround you (because we all know Dad would have just planted every bit of it in grass to make it easier to mow right over everything!). 

Mom, you have brought light and love, vibrance and joy to everything and everyone whose paths you’ve crossed for nearly 80 (Wow! 80 seems really old unless I’m thinking of MY mom, who will forever remain young to me) years now. 

I know no one who would be willing to utter an unkind word about you. You have demonstrated authenticity and genuine care for people as long as I have known you. Your generosity is one of the qualities I have always admired, for you have rarely known a stranger and have forever been willing to share what you had with anyone in need. 

Children who will never meet or know you have kept warm by the blankets, sweaters, and booties you’ve knitted and crocheted. People have been nourished and treated by the soups you have made and cookies, cakes, and pies you have baked.

Your impact on the world around you is far-reaching, even if it only included our own extended family, who scattered all over this country and beyond. So many of them have had the privilege of being touched by “Aunt Sue” in some form or fashion. Others whose names I’ll never know have stories they can tell about your kindness, your perseverance, your positive attitude when life dealt you blow after blow of adversity others would have cowered in front of had that been their cross to bear. 

Now, I am also fully cognizant of your frailties. I know you are not perfect, and I am so glad for that as well; for it allows me to press on in my own mama journey when the winds of difficulty in this job threaten to blow me over. I recognize how tough I have made it on you as a mother, and I am grateful you have still sought me out through those rough moments and sometimes long seasons of drought.

I guess I thought I was so ready to be away from you for the rest of my life when I drove away that hot day in 1990 . . . 

I really knew very little. I was 23. I had barely lived. 

The gal pictured above knew much better by 2018 how hard it has become to leave each time she has been called to do it.  I haven’t seen your sweet face since that July day. You have suffered another stroke since that time, and I know many lonely, despairing days have come your way since then. 

Yet, Mom, I still stand amazed at your enduring spirit, your unwillingness to truly despair, and your lack of complaint. You are still an encourager, a cheerleader, and ready with a chuckle if the occasion calls for it. You are determined to virtually run your race well, even though real running is impossible. You inspire me, even when you aren’t trying. 

I know we can’t get together any time soon.  I do know the next time I can safely head your way, I will probably rush those last few miles on 62 to make it “home home” where you are there waiting for me like you have since the very first time I learned how to drive away. 

I love you, Mom! 
Happy Mother’s Day!

Leaving a trail of beauty ~


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