Not a day goes by that I don’t think of a special person, even though I haven’t seen her or spoken to her for 26 years.
I should clarify, I speak to her every day, and even though she doesn’t answer, in my heart I know she is with me. She was my greatest champion when I was growing up. She wiped away my tears, and always gave me the courage to push forward. As a young boy, I was slight of stature, and would get bullied almost daily by the neighborhood kids. She would always be there to clean me up after a fight or just hug me and tell me “everything will be OK.” She was strong in her faith, made sure I went to church every Sunday, and sacrificed so much to send me to a Catholic high school. She always smiled and nodded her head in affirmation when I spoke in a very serious tone about being an astronaut and a professional race car driver as a young boy.
As I grew older, she put up with my teenage attitudes about life, and her role in that life. She loved me unconditionally, and that love helped form me into the person I am today. She was a successful businesswoman who taught me about hard work and interacting with other people. When I met my then-girlfriend, Shari, who I would eventually marry, my mother welcomed her into the family like a daughter.
A few months before our wedding, my mom was diagnosed with cancer, and I spent as much time with her as I could. Shari and I were unofficially married in the hospital room the day they thought my mom would pass, but she held on for two more weeks. The day of our actual wedding was bittersweet. My mom was too weak to attend in person, so everyone at the wedding party came to her hospital bed and made sure she felt as if she was part of our special day. After the ceremony and reception, we headed back to the hospital to show the videotape the celebration. It brought her so much joy and helped ease the pain she was enduring.
I received a phone call a couple of weeks later that I needed to hurry to the care facility where they had moved her. Shari and I drove as quickly as we could to get there before she died. As I was running from the car to the entrance, I stopped, and this feeling came over me, a feeling of sadness, and of loss. I knew at that moment she had died.
I share this story not to make people sad, but to share with you the story of an incredible woman. Her legacy lives in a son who embodies who she was as a person, and the love she shared. To the mothers in our community, never underestimate the impact you have on the life of your child. I wish all moms out there a very blessed and happy Mother’s Day.