When I was sixteen, my mother taught me to drive by taking me to the winding country roads of Westminster, Maryland, after an ice storm. She told me if I could drive on icy roads in January, I could drive anywhere.
I tell this story to people sometimes, and they ask if my mother was nuts.
No. She was right. I’m a confident driver pretty much anywhere, and I have no hesitation driving in snow. I know what’s possible in icy situations, and what’s not. I’m an assertive, defensive driver, and I have my mother to thank for that.
My mom is one of those people who will give you the shirt off her back. Really. I remember once, years and years ago, when she knew a friend of hers from the hospital (my mom is a nurse) didn’t have money to buy her kids Christmas presents. My mom gave her three hundred dollars.
And we weren’t rich.
(Don’t get me wrong. We weren’t poor. But it’s not like my parents were lining the litter box with ten dollar bills or anything.)
Once we walked out of our house, in a decent neighborhood, and a young girl walked out of a house two doors down and asked us if we knew the way to a nearby bus stop. This was in northern Baltimore County, in a good neighborhood. We were a long way from any bus stop, and this girl was, even to my naive young eyes, a prostitute. Totally out of place, and if she’d asked anyone else for help, they probably would have called the cops.
My mom drove her home.
When we were teenagers, my brother had a friend who was essentially homeless. I don’t remember what was going on with his parents or why he didn’t have anywhere to live, but my mother took him in, under her own roof, and treated him like her own son.
(He eventually stole money and ran off to live with someone else, but that didn’t stop my mother.)
Mom is the kind of mother who will stand back and let you make your own mistakes — but she’s always there with good advice if you need it. God only knows how she keeps her mouth shut when she sees me parent my son, but she does. Sometimes she sounds too opinionated, but she’s not. She only gives her opinion once you’ve asked for it, and by god, she’s strong in her conviction. That’s a strength.
I tell my mother everything.
Some of my best memories revolve around being in the car with mom. We’d drive to Cleveland, Ohio every year to visit her mother, a solid six hour drive that should have been miserably boring, but we played loud music and joked and laughed and pointed out the landscape. We always stopped in Breezewood, PA, her favorite rest stop.
When I hit my twenties, I finally told her she didn’t need to make the moo sound when we passed cows.
When her mother started failing in health, my mom sold her house in Baltimore and moved to Cleveland to take care of her. I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now, but that’s the kind of thing my mother does.
While she was gone, I missed her terribly.
My grandmother passed away in 2006, not long before I got married. I flew to Cleveland to be with my mother. That summer, she moved back to Maryland, and found a house a mile down the road from me.
I love having her nearby.
Since becoming a mother myself, it’s amazing how much closer I’ve grown to mom. I suddenly have a greater appreciation for her strengths and sacrifices, for the amazing job she’s done in raising me.
She’s a wonderful person, and my best friend.
I’m so lucky to have her.
Happy Mother’s Day, mom. I love you. Thanks for everything, always.