Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sugarbear loves his Momma

I have this feeling in my gut that I won't be able to post anything again until next week so I wanted to get my Mother's Day thoughts out of my head on onto "paper."

I have so many thoughts about theming a Mother's Day post, but really want to stay focused and stick to talking about my Mom and dedicate this blog post to just her and her alone.

I can't remember a time in my life when my Mom didn't work. She began working at St. John's Medical Center when I was 1 year old washing pots and pans in the Brady building. The Brady building was one of many small buildings on the campus of St. John's specifically treating rehab patients. Most of the patients who stayed at Brady were there for months doing rehab and they became part of the Brady bunch family. Thirty-six years later my Mom is the Director of Food and Nutritional services for St. John's. What is so amazing about this is the fact that she has worked in one place for thirty-six years and that she has climbed to the top of her profession and field without a college degree. Her success is from nothing more than pure hard work and excellence in what she does which she proves day after day. No paper can say you are qualified to do what my Mom has proven she can do.

As the son of an executive working woman you give up some things, and you also gain some things as well. Over the years I have struggled with the balance of those two trains of thought, "have I lost more than I have gained?" I have missed coming home to my Mom each day after school, I have missed her being my home room Mom, and her staying home to care for me when i was sick, true enough. I have gained seeing my Mom struggle to make hard ethical struggles and do the right thing, I have gained seeing my Mom administrates her employees and runs a tight ship---she commands each of their respect and is never, never ever going to ask an employee to do something that she herself would or has not already done. I have gained learning about mass production of food and gained a love for cooking and collecting cookbooks, I have gained thirty minute drives with just me and Mom. I have gained a compassion for serving people to your exhaustion and smiling while you do it, resting for a bit, and hitting it hard the next day. We lived in another town than St. John's was in and it took us exactly thirty minutes to get from the hospital parking lot to our driveway. As I wrestle the thoughts in my mind I can only come up with the fact that what you get is what you get. It is up to you to see the profit of your life and up to you to find benefit with the cards you are dealt. Sure, I could have resented the things that I have lost more than I cherish what I had and have, but had I chosen that path I would have lost everything. Instead I have embraced and looked for the profit of my life and see that I have gained much more by choosing to embrace what I could gain no matter what the cards say.

Most of the employees that work closely with my Mom have done so for twenty or more years, I know more about these folks than I do my own relatives or cousins. I wanted to be with my Mom when she went to work and have the fondest memories of going to the hospital with her and spinning around in her cool office chairs. She had tweed and chrome chairs, so cool. She also had a rather impressive collection of office supplies. Her desk and middle drawer could entertain me in my world of imagination for hours and hours upon end. Some of my time there was spent just hanging out with Mom. More than that though I spent my time working in the kitchen and diet office, helping people get their jobs done. I scrubbed pots with Leroy, worked the tray line, cleaning the tray sas they came in from the cafeteria or from upstairs, loved every minute of it. I worked parties and ran food from the kitchen to the serving lines, at the anual hospital picnic I was one of the first ones there and last ones to leave, working like a dog the whole time. I loved it. What I loved was being with my Mom, all of the other things were just fringe benefits to the real core of my memories, time with Mom.

As a very young boy summers meant I would go to work with her everyday and get picked up by Robba. We always got to work by 7:30 and Clara had my standard breakfast ready: Cream of Wheat (sugar, butter, and milk please); buttered toast (two slices of the butter drenched gooey delicious toast); two sausage links; and chocolate milk. I ate that every day (as I type that my brain is registering the tastes as if I had a bite in my mouth right now) and usually was done by the time Robba came to get me. Mom would pick me up around 6 and we would head home, arriving around 6:30 or so. I loved that life. On the way home Mom and I would talk about family, or what was going on at work (there is no soap opera on TV that compares to the lives lived at St. John's) sometimes we would talk about dreams. I can remember being about 12 or so and one conversation that Mom and I had which was very forward for her and actually panned out to be my life today. "Will, do you ever see yourself as a Minister." "What...good Lord no! What on earth would I do as a minister? I can't stand the thought of praying in public let alone preaching." "Well, you should think about it, sugar bear, you have the heart for it." Little did I know that I would soon live out that conversation.

Two chapters of Mom's and my life that I would rather have lived another way, but harbor no regret for how the Lord worked it out are: the divorce and 1998. When my parents divorced, I was 21, my Mom suffered a nervous breakdown. Mom changed, a lot, she was different in many different ways. Mom and I have always been closer that Dad and I and when I knew that they were divorcing I never thought I would do anything else other than live with Mom. "Son, this has been a really, really hard thing for me to work out. I am still working on figuring things out. I love you and want you to be ok in all of this, but I just can't have you live with me while I am sorting all of this out." Each word was a nail driven into my heart. What I know now that I didn't know then was that Mom was fighting depression, and suicidal thoughts on a daily basis. She didn't know herself or trust herself enough to take care of me because she didn't want me to find her should she decide it was too much to live the life she was living. We didn't talk for a good two months after I moved in with Dad, I wasn't sure we would ever talk. We finally came together with the help of Lucy and spent every Tuesday night together until I moved to Oklahoma to go to school. Those days seem so far away now, but I cannot ignore them as they are a significant part of my foundation and who I am today.

"Will...this is Sis...stay calm...Mom's been in an accident." "What? What kind of accident?" "She was on her way to Kansas city and turned onto a road not seeing a semi-truck that was coming and the semi-truck hit her at a high speed. The Highway Patrol and Life Flight are on the way, no one is sure that she is alive." I was working at Deer Creek when that phone call came from Sis. I don't think I have ever felt more emptiness in my life. To entertain the thought that my Mom was ripped out of my life without warning or notice and would never be in it again was more than I could take. "St. John's.." "This is Will, Dorothy's son, I want to speak to Kevin." "This is Kevin..." "Kevin, this is Will I want to know what is going on with Mom." "Will.. she's been in a horrible accident, the van is totalled and we aren't sure if there are any survivors we can't get hold of anyone." "I want you to get a helicopter ready and go get my Mom, right now." "Will...we can't do that the authorities are taking care of her and we are all on alert and waiting for them to arrive." "I'm on my way there, call me when you get the first word." I didn't have a cell phone and Kendra and I were going to be out of touch for three hours. Lucy was there and scrambling to find out what was goign on. She was goign to go to the sight of the crash and find out for herself if need be. When Lucy is on a mission, you just get out of her way--it is best for everyone. The van Mom was driving was hit by a Milk truck which was speeding at around 80 miles an hour. It hit her van in the front left side and didn't stop until it had driven over her van. The Highway Patrolman said that if the truck had been one inch closer the entire van would have been sucked up into the truck and there would have been a total loss. One inch. Guess how grateful I am for one inch to this day? She survived that crash with ten staples and a cracked rib.

Mom loves the first slice of hot chocolate cake, fresh out of the oven no frosting. She loves any cake hot out of the oven, first slice. She loves snicker doodles, I can't make them and not think of her--she loves those cookies. She also loves my Chicken and Noodles, they are the way my Grandma makes them but thanks to Mildred and Pat Triplett I've kicked up the broth to a whole new level. Mom has a laugh that when she gets going will make everyone in the room laugh. We usually had no idea what she was laughing about but knew when she would calm down and tell us we would always be like, "that wasn't fun." Mom usually pictures people she knows in situations that she sees on TV and finds great humor in those situations. I love to hear and see my Mom laugh, there is nothing better.

My Mom is a wonderful person whom I love with all my heart. I can't really picture what my life would be like if she were not here to be in it. She is 60 and will retire in three years from St. John's. I cant' really wrap my brain around Mom minus St. John's because that equation ever existed before in my life.

To see Teensy and the boys love her so hard and much makes my heart happy. She is a great Nonny. She's a great Mom who has rescued me from many a horrible situation, each time never asking questions, always being my biggest fan and most staunch protector. No one talks about Mom's kids in a derogatory way around her, she will mow you down with razor sharp precision and leave no doubt in your mind about how she feels.

I hope those who read this and have only memories of their Mothers to lean upon, will find in themselves that which makes them great and thank their Mother's for it. Mom's have such wonderful impacts in and about our lives it is hard to articulate just how important they are to our worlds. It is only in their absence that we can say, "If mother were here..."

I love you Mom, Happy Mother's Day.


Tracy said...

wow... i really didnt need to cry so early in the day you know. what a wonderful tribute to your mom. i hope you tell her about it so she can read and know just the way you feel - mom's rarely get to hear that stuff - the real deal - we hear the "i love you"'s but this is so much more.

Sharon said...

Thanks Will for letting us share some of your precious memories. Perhaps my dad held that special place in my heart and now blesses me from heaven.
You are an eloquent writer and we are blessed.....Thanks!