family

Celebrating Mother’s Day From Afar

She is about 5’ on a good day. Her blonde hair kisses the nape of her neck and her green eyes shine so bright. She makes everyone feel a ray of sunshine with her infectious smile (sometimes with pink lipstick on her teeth). I grew up on her Marion Cunningham waffles. I would watch her make the recipe in the evening and wake to the smell of the batter wafting out of the iron. In each square, I’d carefully pour butter first, then top it off with pure maple syrup. It was a ritual we had every morning that I stayed at her home. She would dust it with confectioners sugar and a dollop whipped cream to make sure I was extra spoiled and I never had just one.

My grandmother gave me a lot of firsts: The first time I went fishing, the first time I went bra shopping, the first person I cried to when we moved away to Montana and the first person I ran to when my parents divorced. She also gave me my first introduction to gardening and cooking, and she was the first one to teach me about kindness. My grandmother’s motto was always “be ye kind” from Ephesians.

Her Southern charm in a Western state radiated pure hospitality. Everyone who came into her home was treated as if they were at a Four Seasons hotel. She always had their favorite meal cooking and warm tea steeping in a pot. Fresh lemonade was squeezed from her meyer lemon trees and mint picked from her garden. At the same time she was the perfect host, wife and friend, she also held her own and taught me so much about strength and perseverance.  

My grandmother is no longer able to do all the things she once did. Her battle with dementia sometimes gets the better of her, but, when I daydream about her kitchen, I can still taste those mornings in my memory. On days like today, especially, when I sit down and reflect on my childhood with her, I become incredibly nostalgic (and hungry for waffles). I am so sad that I am unable to be with her on this Mother’s Day. Not only are we hundreds of miles apart, but this pandemic makes me feel like we are in a strange time warp. I am incredibly aware of all the time that’s passed, and how quickly it’s racing by. It makes me sad that I am robbed of time with members of my family who don’t have time on their side.

My grandmother also gave me my wonderful mother, who doesn’t always get the credit I give my grandmother. My mom has her own special fortitude and strengths. My favorite motto of hers is ‘that doesn’t work for me.” It’s short and simple and it reminds me to stand up for myself and hold my boundaries. I am thankful for so much about our relationship, especially for the closeness of being only 20 years apart. We share clothes, shoes, stories, we bicker like sisters (even though she always reminded me growing up she was NOT my friend, she was my mother), and we have a way of speaking to each other that nobody quite understands (something that’s really only earned from a mother daughter relationship). She also demonstrated how to forge ahead and be yourself. If you ever saw my mom dancing you would understand…she has a rhythm all her own.

These two mothers have shaped me in so many ways. And while I sometimes lament that they passed down their short height and lack of rhythm (sorry Mom), I’m grateful for these strong women I’m made from. They showed me that I can keep my head up and fight for myself while always showing kindness. That being confrontational doesn’t have to be aggressive, but can be laced with grace. I’m indebted to them for the path they’ve paved for me and as I look into my daughter and sons’ faces, I only hope that I can do the same for them.

Sending love and strength to all of you this Mother’s Day.

 

 

 

 

 
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10 Comments

  • Jam

    Beautiful,Gen! Mom passed down the short height too ( I’m not so happy about it😂😂😂)

  • Erika

    I am so happy for you! You were raised right. I lost my mother when I was 22 and it was so hard. I miss her everyday. Just want people to know she was strong, worked hard and laughed hard.
    Love you mommy,Erika

  • Tracy Jones

    I am sure your grandmother is so proud of the woman you are today. You are an inspiration to all women. Please tell your mom and grandma Thank you from all of us.

  • Deb Sorrell

    Very beautifully written and poignant, Gen.

  • Marion

    Magnificent!!! It’s hard to say, but I’d rather my grandmother than my mother. I love my mother and she loves me, but not it’s not a mother’s love. It is thanks to my grandmother that I am here to write to you, without her I would not be what I am today. She made me out of hell and thanks to her, I could see the light and that I will never forget. She passed on values to me, she made me know happiness, she took me wherever she went as well I travelled a lot with her, and raised me as if I were his child. In this particular year, I wouldn’t be by her side to wish her a happy Mother’s Day and not being able to see too her is even harder.

  • Kim Jacobs

    You are extremely fortunate to have both these women in your life. I envy you.

    I had a lot of the same types of experience with my own Nana though she played both the role of grandmother AND mother to me for most of my life. I lost my own mother, but not in the sense that most people do. She was alive but just chose not to be our mother, or be involoved in our lives. Not all mothers are perfect, or even nice. I used to be so jealous of my friends who had a mother that loved and cared for them. Now I am even more grateful that my dear, sweet Nana chose to step up and take on 3 unruly children and raise us. She forsook her own chance at retirement and a simpler life in order to keep working and provide for us.

    I celebrate Mother’s Day as a mother and a grandmother now, and I understand the sacrifices we willingly make for our children, and our children’s children, should we choose to accept that role. So, Happy Mother’s Day to all who choose to love and raise their children, whether they are yours by birth or by choice.

    I miss my Nan every day.
    Kim

    • Kim Jacobs

      Re-reading, what I poste above – I meant to convey that I envy you in a very respectful and loving way, in the same way I see my friends with their mothers and feel joy for them at the bond they share.

      You are a fabulous mother and your family are indeed blessed, by having you, and your role models.

      Happy Mother’s Day!
      Kim

  • ADELE THOMSON

    Your mother and grandmother taught you well. You are a beautiful wife and mother. Good job.

  • Lucia

    unfortunately I didn’t have a good relationship with my grandmother. But I am grateful to you for having brought my father into the world, who is a great man

  • Tami

    You and Jared are both very blessed to have supportive families and , subsequently, healthy relationships with your family members. I don’t, but am reinventling myself, so hopefully I’ll make some new friends/meet more people with common interests, who will become like family to me. I’m looking forward to starting my new life, but wish I’d finally get over this Covid, because my son is leaving for school in a few months and I’ll have to move at the same time, so I have a TON of stuff to do.

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