A Mother and a Mentor
Like most of us say, my mother was an extraordinary woman. She was one of two children growing up in a small town. She was a very likeable and friendly person even at a young age. She took dance, was extremely active in school events, a baton twirler for the marching band, and even won Miss Strawberry Festival as a little girl and a teen. I always thought my mother was beautiful, but upon seeing photos of her in high school I decided that she was strikingly beautiful.
Some of my earliest memories are of my mother singing to me. We always sang together. She had a wonderful sense of humor and a very quick wit. She always had these funny little songs and rhymes that she would say.
"A peanut sat on a railroad track,
It's heart was all a flutter,
Around the bend came number 10,
TOOT! TOOT! Peanut butter!"
"Ooey Gooey was a worm,
a wittle worm was he,
he crawled upon a railroad track,
a train he did not see,
She always had something to make you smile when you had a bad day. You could come home from school had having one of the worst days in your life, and she would suddenly, magically, make everything better.
I have extremely fond memories, as most of us do, of my mother during the Christmas season. As soon as Thanksgiving dinner was cleaned up, we would start planning for Christmas. We'd sing Christmas carols as we decorated the tree and house. We sang lots of times during the season, anytime, anywhere. Mom would play the piano, or the organ, or her accordion while we sang at home. She even helped me for many years to 'assemble' items so I could dress up as Santa Claus. Whether it was a handkerchief beard or one made out of cotton balls, she'd take my picture, hug me, and call me her little Santa.
All during the season, Mom would talk to my sister and I about Christmas in general. We talked quite often about the true 'Reason for the Season.' We talked a lot about the magic of Christmas too. Santa and Mrs. Claus, the elves, the reindeer, and living at the North Pole. She helped bring the magic of Santa alive every year. She always made sure we were able to watch the Christmas specials on tv. We always went out driving around looking at lights a couple of times every year, even when I was older. I can even remember taking a girl I was dating in high school with us, who I ended up marrying.
Sometimes, I really think my mother was training me to portray Santa. It wouldn't surprise me. She always had a way of making Christmas a magical time of year. She got a big kick out of me when I first started portraying Santa. She never got to see me with the real beard, although she knew it would happen because of how much white I was getting in my hair at the time.
Mom passed away February 8, 2000. She would have been 59 on her birthday. September 10 was her birthday. She has been on my mind a lot here lately, which I guess is why I am writing this now. Mom had had emphysema and had to have a lung transplant. We would have lost her sooner if not for the transplant. The transplant gave her one more year with us. She made it the most magical time, especially that last Christmas together. My kids thought that their Nana, as they called her, was the greatest person on Earth. And she was. Thanks Mom, for everything you taught me, for the magic you brought and instilled in me, and for making me who I am today. Happy Birthday Mom…..we love you and miss you dearly.