This picture is four generations of women in my family. The lady on the left is my grandmother. The woman in the middle is my mother, holding my daughter. And I'm on the right.
Some of you may have noticed that I haven't been around for the past week. There's a reason for my absence, and the reason is this: strawberry pie.
You see, I lost my mother one week ago today. It was unexpected and overwhelming, but Mom went to be with the Lord late last week. I spent a lot of time thinking about my mom the past few days. Remembering, pondering. Mom taught me some pretty wonderful things when I was growing up. Here's just a few of the things for which I'm grateful.
Mom taught me that you do what's needed. Whatever life may hand your way, you follow through and do what needs to be done. People are counting on you.
Mom taught me that family comes first. I can't remember a time when she wasn't thinking or doing something for someone in our family. She worked hard to make sure that we were comfortable. That we had what we needed. That we were happy. Whether it was a Christmas full of traditions, or just an extra blanket on the bed at night, Mom always saw to everyone else's needs.
Mom taught me to honor my husband. For years I watched her honor and reverence the man she married, and that set the standard for the way I've tried to treat my own husband for the past twenty-three years.
Mom taught me that some events were special. Birthdays were always big at our house. For one day, the birthday girl (or boy) didn't have to do any chores. They got whatever they wanted (within reason) for their birthday supper, and they got the cake of their choice too. Even though I always seemed to ask for something difficult, like homemade chicken and dumplings, Mom came through.
Every year on the day after Thanksgiving, Mom and my sisters and I spent the day making Christmas cookies. We played Christmas music and turned out hundreds of different kinds of cookies. I still use some of her recipes, and although I don't always make the cookies the day after Thanksgiving, I always have Christmas music playing, and I always think of Mom.
My mom was a great cook. As the youngest of three girls, I didn't always get a lot of cooking time in the kitchen. We all had to help get meals on the table, but a lot of the time I was relegated to setting the table or filling the ice with glasses. Mom did teach me how to make mashed potatoes, however. To this day I take pride in creating mounds of creamy, lump-less perfection.
When Terry and I got engaged, we joked some about the fact that I didn't really know that much about cooking. But my mom was not about to let one of her daughters start her own home without being prepared. So in the six months between our engagement and our wedding, Mom taught me to cook. I made sure to ask how to make all of my favorite dishes, although they never quite turned out as good as hers did. My mom wanted my culinary education to be thorough, so she even taught me how to make pies. I spent all of one afternoon laboring over a homemade strawberry pie. I think she took as much pride in the finished product as I did.
Years later I taught my own daughter to make biscuits from scratch. (In Uganda, everything was from scratch!) Typically, it wasn't any time at all before Steph's skill surpassed my own, but I still took my own form of mother's pride every time she produced biscuits for the table.
My mom was the epitome of the perfect housekeeper and the perfect lady. I fell far short in both areas, something that amused both of us, I think. She thought my mistakes were funny--and they usually were. But even though I never quite got as good as she did, I don't think I disappointed my mother. Because her love for me wasn't based on what I was able to accomplish. Her love was based on the fact that I was her daughter. I understand this love because this is what I feel for my own daughter. Stephanie may have disappointed me a time or two, but my love for her has nothing to do with what she does. I love her because of who she is.
And that may be the best thing of all that my mother taught me.
I love you, Mom. I miss you. Thanks for being you.