Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day memories

In 1977 and 2001

Today is Mother's Day. I woke up a little earlier than normal and went downstairs to fire up the griddle. Katie loves French toast and I've always loved making breakfast for her. Made them just the way she likes them with a little cinnamon, some powdered sugar, sliced strawberries and I even did a little twist of sliced orange as decoration. For me this is going ALL out. Trust me. I had everything ready by the time Sam (age 2), Grace (age 4) and Katie (age 30) rolled out of bed and into the kitchen. I thanked God for Katie as we all held hands, ate, then promptly scurried off to church. 

Took the kids to the store yesterday to get a card (an adventure in itself as any mom would attest) and bought her a pretty plant with pink and red flowers that Grace picked out. Katie does so much for this family that never gets seen or thanked. I don't know how she does it day after day. She reminds me at times of my mom.

Dad would wake us kids up early to make breakfast for mom in bed. We'd roll out of bed and pretend to help dad in the kitchen as he made some of his famous French toast with fresh-squeezed (frozen) orange juice, (burnt) toast with jam, eggs overeasy (overcooked) and a bouquet of flowers. And of course the obligatory Mother's Day card with all the kids hen scratching and stick figure drawings with lots of x's and o's. . .

Mom always seemed to sleep in a little bit longer on that day. Never did figure out how with all the racket we were making in the kitchen. We would quietly climb the stairs to her bedroom, each vying for the chance to carry the fancy bed-in-breakfast tray thingy. . . open the door and yell "Happy Mother's Day!" She'd rub her eyes pretending to have just been awoken, sit up and get a big smile on her face as we rushed the bed nearly knocking over her OJ.

I recall one year that dad and I were at the store getting some stuff for Mother's Day. He said I could pick out anything I wanted to get mom. We were in the floral department looking at the half-price flowers and I found the perfect thing— an oversized jungle scene mug with a pretty (dead) flower in it that had a handle formed by a giraffe's neck. It was breathtaking for an 8 year-old and just the thing any woman in her right mind would die for. I thought it was the coolest thing ever! Mom acted like it was too when I presented it to her with all the pride I could muster. That was all that mattered. I can still see her smile.

Mom died Oct. 1, 2001 from ALS and pancreatic cancer. I was at her bedside at the very end along with Katie and my brothers and sisters. Some of those last few months have become some of my most treasured memories. When she entered hospice full-time, all of us decided to meet with her for breakfast each Friday morning. Nothing too profound. Just time with mom. We laughed, threw food, and just remembered some of the silly stuff we used to do. Mom couldn't talk much at that point but would just get this HUGE grin on her face remembering. She had the greatest smile. What I wouldn't give to have one of those Friday morning breakfasts again.

Some other memories I have are of her reading Uncle Wiggly to all us kids—one chapter each night. One of my earliest memories is listening to her rock me to sleep as she sang Jesus Loves The Little Children. Now I sing that song to my kids each night and can still hear her voice as we sing. I also remember how much she loved to play games with us. She was a teacher for over 20 years and knew how to relate to kids. We'd stay up late sometimes, just me and her, playing Othello and Trivial Pursuit. In the 80's we got an Atari 2600 for Christmas. Her favorite game was Breakout. She was good. REAL good. I don't think I ever beat her high score. Occasionally we even talked her into jumping on the trampoline with us. You should have seen it. It was awesome!

Mom, I love you and miss you so much! You always held me tight when I needed a hug. Even when I was in high school and college I wanted you with me when I went to the doctors. You and dad always sacrificed so much for me to provide opportunities (soccer, swimming, choir, piano, football, and on and on). I see that now. I didn't so much then. I've learned so much from you that greatly affects who I am today. And even though you never had the chance to meet Grace or Sam (or the baby on the way) I know you would have loved them so much. I find myself saying some of the things you and dad used to say to us. Stuff like, "Didn't I tell you playing with scissors is dangerous" and "No, we don't use markers on the walls." It makes me smile. I have a tape recording of you singing with Aunt Marilyn from a long time ago that I love listening to. I crack up when you stop mid-verse to scold us kids for something we were doing. Love that! It was so you.

I have hope too. Hope that I'll see you again. In the "twinkling of an eye" as they say. Say hi to dad for me too.

your son Matthew (she always used to call me that)


The Rogers Family said...

Your Mom sounds like a beautiful person...I wish I could have met her! Thanks for sharing...

The DeCostes said...

Thanks Comfort. She truly was a blessing in my life and I miss her every single day. Her spirit lives on in so many ways. Even Katie says I say or do stuff sometimes that reminds her of my mom. I love it!

Lisa said...

I have many fond memories of your mom also.Your parents would be so pround of you and the man of God that you have become. They raised you well. How are Michelle and Marc? I read your blog often so I can see how you all are doing. Take care.

The DeCostes said...

Lisa, so glad you enjoyed sharing memories of my mom. I know both she and dad loved you a lot and always loved having you (and your family) over after church. Great memories. You need to start a blog of your own so we can keep in touch with you and yours. Chat soon.–Matt