I knew when I wrote a Witness for Justice* about my Dad a few weeks ago, another would surely follow, this time about my Mom. Mom passed away three years ago this spring quite unexpectedly at the ripe young age of 91. Just like I shared about my Dad, I miss her so much every day, not only on anniversary days, birthdays, or Mother’s Day.
Speaking of Mother’s Day, just like many of you, advertisements came flooding into my mail boxes – both US postal and email. The deluge of mailings and television commercials announcing discounts on chocolate, flowers, jewelry, books, cheap vacations, and an array of other gifts did not go unnoticed. Some of them give the best deal provoking me to hurry. Some remind me that I just have a few days to order at the last minute, just in case I forgot. I never forget. But I do wonder when honoring Moms became such big business; a business of which like many of us, I am a target consumer and part of the willing audience.
You see, my Mom loved fresh flowers and appreciated getting that bouquet on her doorstep which I had to order from a distance at times when I couldn’t be with her in person. When we talked, my heart blossomed upon hearing her voice expressing how beautiful they were. She would nurse those flowers for days and weeks at a time. In fact, when cleaning out her house following her passing, we found cards from years before sometimes accompanied by a sprig of the bouquet. I believe that it was her way of remembering the joys of motherhood even in the midst of parenting’s difficult trials from time to time.
I continue to be grateful that conversations with my Mom were not limited to Mother’s Day. I am thankful that we didn’t need a special day to call each other just to talk about everything and nothing. I can almost predict what she would be saying in answer to my questions about so many things. Now that she’s not here, I must remind myself to listen.
Beyond motherhood, Louise Jaramillo was a teacher in the public school system for decades, but more significantly a wise elder educating her own offspring and the thousands of children she touched. With contributions from friends and family at her passing, our family established a scholarship in Mom’s name. I am proud to share that a student at Forest Grove High School (Oregon) who intends to be a teacher will receive a scholarship in her name this year, extending her legacy into the future.
Be they biological, adopted, or claimed through friendship, each of us describes our Mom differently. Some of our memories are wonderful, but others are not. As a Mom myself, I am clear that not a single one of us is perfect, far from it. We make mistakes all the time.
On this Mother’s Day, I hope we can allow our Moms to have real human traits, good and bad. Let’s have them know that we do not expect them to be perfect as they are sometimes portrayed in media and commercials. As wonderful as she was, Louise Jaramillo would never have fit into those commercials. She was much more real and I am grateful for that today and every day. Happy Mother’s Day!
*A few weeks ago I wrote a Witness for Justice about my Dad. I’m pleased to report that I received some very touching notes in response. That is not always the case, especially when I provoke a cord of disagreement about a particular issue of injustice that is on my mind and on my heart. A special thanks to those who shared thoughts and remembrances of their own fathers. Even in other moments of disagreement, we did agree about Dads. It just goes to show that in our humanness, we can respectfully agree on important matters and disagree on others.
The United Church of Christ has more than 5,277 churches throughout the United States. Rooted in the Christian traditions of congregational governance and covenantal relationships, each UCC setting speaks only for itself and not on behalf of every UCC congregation. UCC members and churches are free to differ on important social issues, even as the UCC remains principally committed to unity in the midst of our diversity.