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A Letter to
Jodie wrote this letter
to her mother two years ago, and followed it up with a three
hour phone call. Her mom mailed her a letter back expressing
gratitude and forgiveness. Three weeks later, her mother died.
To Jodie's surprise, her brother read this letter at their mother's
funeral. Afterwards, he said it reflected the feelings of an
ever growing population of "overscheduled and misunderstood"
relationships among people.
by Jodie Lynn
Even though we didn't watch a lot of TV, I still had the June
Cleaver, "perfect Mom" image burned into my mind. It
was Mrs. Simmons, Susan's mom, who was the perfect Mom and whom
all the children adored. She was tall and slim; she had dark,
well-groomed, shiny black hair; she was beautifully dressed,
smelled wonderful, and was the best cookie baker ever. When she
smiled, her perfect red lips only enhanced her perfect white
teeth. She was always there for every school function, field
trip, and activity throughout our elementary school years. In
fact, I often would pretend she was my Mom instead of you.
It was rough growing up in our house -- as you well know -- Moms
who worked outside the home were taboo in the late 50's. For
those who dared to "go against the norm," it was a
little more acceptable if they were a nurse or teacher. You were
a Registered Nurse, a big accomplishment by standards then and
today. It was the hours that were so unbearable.
For some reason you had the 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. shift. We
managed to see you just as we were heading out the door to school.
As we arrived home, you were sleeping peacefully -- but not to
be disturbed. It was very lonely because Dad never even made
an attempt to fill your shoes. He had his own world to build
and goals to accomplish.
Mother/daughter conversations were something I eagerly longed
to have between us, and I'd listen longingly to Mrs. Simmons
and Susan talk about "stuff." I remember wishing with
all my heart you would surprise me and at least show up for just
a couple of school events. More and more I found myself turning
to my girlfriend's Moms for the "motherly" support
I so longed for and needed. Just when I thought things couldn't
get worse -- they did: You got a promotion! You were named Head
Nurse and Supervisor of the entire children's ward of the hospital.
How could you be away more than you were now? To make matters
worse, in my eyes, you were taking care of other people's children
yet had no time for your own. As the years went by, my resentment
grew. I remember going to the children's ward with you and all
the kids waiting in great anticipation for you to come in and
say hello. How odd I thought this was. As we were going into
the break room to get a snack, one of the other nurses gave me
a hug and said, "Your Mom is dearly loved here by the children,
nurses, and even the doctors. Do you know why?" I shook
my head no and she said, "Because she treats everyone the
same -- with great kindness." I was so mad and confused
-- I ran out.
The following week a field trip had been planned by our school
class and you had promised to come. The day finally arrived and
we waited around for as long as we could -- but you missed your
appointment time and we had to leave. You told me later you had
gone by a boy's house to see how he was doing and to bring him
a basket of fruit. His mother was in jail and his grandmother
was taking care of him. The police couldn't find his father and
he needed around-the-clock supervision due to a delicate surgery
he had a few days earlier. SO WHAT!!!!!!! I wanted to scream.
I was always searching for someone to be my mom and a role model...and
you were always looking after other folk's children. Then it
happened -- I got married and had children of my own. I swore
I'd always be there for them, attend their school functions,
be on time for field trips and sporting activities, etc., and
I did (and still am). As the years have gone by I've found myself
giving much more than receiving.
If a parent can't drive to a soccer game, a baseball practice,
field trip, etc., I fill in. I spend time with my own children
but am always including the neighborhood kids as well. If someone's
mom is sick, cooking meals for their family is no big deal. One
day, a friend said to me, "Wow, your own mother must have
been an awesome giver. We can always count on you to fill in
and you treat everyone with respect and kindness -- that's so
unusual. She taught you well."
I was shocked to hear those familiar words. As I saw more and
more of your personality reflected in my own daily tasks, I suddenly
realized how much I am like you. But the most startling and important
discovery was that you had been the role model I had spent my
whole life searching and longing for -- and I didn't even know
it. You worked long, hard hours for very little pay -- so do
I. You filled in whenever necessary -- so do I. You treated everyone
with kindness and respect -- and I try to do the same.
So what's the ending to this story -- it's one you've heard over
and over: "Actions speak louder than words!" Happy
Mother's Day Mom -- and by the way -- thanks!
Hugs and lots of love!
Your daughter who was once blind!
- Jodie Lynn is a nationally syndicated columnist
of Parent to Parent, and author of Mommy
- CEO (Constantly Evaluating Others), Five Golden Rules. She invites you to enter her Mother's Day contest
and spread a little cheer. See details at her web site: Parent