I couldn’t let this day go by without talking about my dear Mom. My earliest memories of my Mom is her teaching me to pray, although I remember a lot of those prayers were about how to deal with my new baby brother and how he had displaced me. At the age of four, I was a little lost as my role as the youngest had taken a dramatic turn and I was now in no man’s land as the middle child. It would take a lot of time and a lot of prayers before I found myself again at the age of five.
My Mom, as most moms are, was the softer side of my parents. When taking long trips, she would be the one to convince my Dad to pull over so we could use the bathroom rather than using the Wilson tennis ball can as my Dad had suggested. Or convince my Dad to splurge and let us eat a Big Mac once in while rather than our steady diet of brewer’s yeast, wheat bread, and carrots.
My Dad had and still has the endurance of a Sherpa, a total machine, when it came to physical activities like jogging, biking, swimming and hiking and is the epitome of enduring steadiness. Never the fastest, he could however go forever. Rumor has it that he was the inspiration for the tortoise in Aesop’s The Tortoise and The Hare. And for many years, our family trips consisted of taking this 20 to 50 mile Spartan-like youth hikes in the back country of Idaho. It was my Mom who took the edge off of these hikes for us when we were little kids, carrying many of us until we could hold our own around the age of 5. It was my Mom who make these trips tolerable by always cooking up all of our freeze dried meals and making them seem like the best food in the world. And it was my Mom who finally said enough with these trips when during the first leg of fifty mile hike she hiked back down with my little brother and spent the rest of the trip in Sun Valley, Idaho at a hotel with a swimming pool while my Dad and I continued on with the fifty miler surviving off of trout (Idaho trout, the best trout in the world!) with a side of unevenly cooked chocolate pudding with hidden pockets of uncooked pudding mix goodness. Of course, by that time my Dad had taken up marathons and triathlons, so the shift in activities did not put him out too much.
It is because of my Mom, the consummate extrovert complete with “planning hands”, that I have the ability to be extroverted at times and take interest in other people. I am a good mix of my Mom and Dad, half extrovert and half introvert. Although, I do prefer the introverted side, but that’s just the selfishness in me. But I digress, back to my Mom. My mother has a great sense of humor and as part of her positive personality she can always find humor in any bad situation. While she definitely has a serious side to her, especially when it came to her catering work and talking back to her, she has the ability to laugh at herself and not take herself always too seriously. As when I was younger, it is still true today that whenever she is around I feel like everything is going to be alright.
For some reason, all of my life I have been fascinated with my Mom’s childhood. Part of it had to do with the fact, that she did not grow up Mormon and for an isolated kid like me I found that so alien from the world I lived in growing up. The other thing is I associated her being raised in Southern California with all that was cool in the 1950’s. For the longest time, I thought the girl on the cover of the American Graffiti album was a picture of her when she was young, although I am pretty sure the reason that I thought that was her was because my big sister, who knew I was very gullible, told me so. But, my Mom did live in the heyday of Southern California with the Beach Boy’s, drag racing, beach parties, etc. She was even one of the first female lifeguards in California.
As I get older, I know I should be grateful and I am grateful for all she has done for me, but I really have no clue, especially as a man, when it comes to the extent that I should grateful for her. Nor do I understand the extent of her love for me and my siblings and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. All I know is she keeps on being an inspiration to us all and a source of pride. And, we all knew she could not keep still during retirement and it would be only a matter of time when she’d be doing something and we are very proud of her and my Dad’s decision to go to the Brisbane, Australia mission soon.