Written by Dr. Jerry L. Cook
She was always there in my early childhood years–every ball game, every fund raiser, and every ride I ever needed. I never had to question whether she’d be there for me. However, sometimes that was a little embarrassing. At ball games, for instance, my mom was quite vocal when cheering or complaining about the game or its officiating. Picture yourself as a teen driving your very first date to Prom in an old van that has squeaky brakes and a stereo that sounds better off than on, and that was how I felt when she screamed at the umpires. Everyone else thought it was funny, but I wanted to hide during those moments.
My mom also encouraged me to read, to write, and to play the piano. She was the great nurturer, but you also knew when you crossed the line with her. It was the old I thought I taught you better than that look that would make me want to do just a little better. The only time I remember her using physical force happened when my oldest brother had a bunch of his friends over to the house and they ran over the lawn (where her prized roses were) with their motorcycles; Mom grabbed the closest broom she could and started swatting anything on two wheels. It was something a highly trained ninja wouldn’t mess with.
Most important of all, Mom taught me to believe in God. When I was 8, my finger was cut off. While I thought I was bleeding to death, she asked if she could say a prayer for me (while we were riding to the Emergency Room). I don’t remember the words, but I remember how I felt, and at that moment I literally felt that she was talking”directly”to God, and that He was talking back. I don’t think I had ever felt God’s presence that close before, and I remember how calm it made me feel despite my predicament.
Perhaps it was because of the constant struggle with cancer that she developed such a close relationship with God. I was 14 when she died. I needed her to be there when I had a crush on a girl. Truthfully, I don’t know if I’d WANT to tell her about it at that age, but I still needed her. I needed that person who spoke to God, and who knew that God spoke back. And I needed that annoying loud voice in the stands and bleachers cheering me on, in victory or defeat, in sports and in life.
I hated Mother’s Day holidays for years after the passing of my Mom. The first Mother’s Day after her passing, I was in church and when everyone got up to talk about their moms, I left the room and went outside to sit in the car. By myself. With no radio. And I just stared outside the window. I’m not sure how much time went by, but then my younger brother came outside and sat in the car with me. And we both stared outside in silence. It was a void neither of us could even talk about because it caused so much pain to do so. That picture pretty much symbolized the emptiness we felt for years.
The good news is that I enjoy Mother’s Day now, as I want it to be a great day for my wife, who is the great mother to our three children. I hope to honor her, support her, and to also honor the memory of my Mom. But I also think about those who do not have that normal, average, or even happy Mother’s Day. Growing up without a mom, or growing up with an abusive mom, or even those who are struggling to conceive may all struggle with Mother’s Day, and my hope is that we can have compassion on them on Mother’s Day and every day.
My Mom would be the first to say she wasn’t perfect, but that wasn’t the point. The fact was that she was perfect for me. This Mother’s Day, and every day, I hope you will find a way to share with your Mother, or a prospective Mother, as well as others in your life, how PERFECT they are for you.
Dr. cook is the author of Grow Your Marriage by Leaps and Boundaries. You can order his book here.