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Sunday, May 10, 2009
It was a great Mother's Day. I woke up to two little perfect babies saying, "Happy Mother's Day," with beautiful sweet smiles. I looked at them both and knew they really meant it when they hugged and kissed me, telling me they love me. Funny how a day that was probably really invented by Hallmark or some other money-hungry industry looking for a spring holiday can really make a day more special (yes, Bret, that was for you). I hope every Mother's Day can include my babies telling me they love me. Bailey, Mom, and I made our way to get pedicures today (my gift to Mom and my kids' gift to me). It was fun to watch Bailey's face light up as they scrubbed her little feet and painted her toes. Yes, we know what a mistake we are making by starting this early, but that's beside the point. It was a relaxing experience... very nice. We weren't able to spend time with my mother-in-law today because the floods in West Virginia kept her from making it home. I was disappointed that we couldn't see her... I hate the thought of her not seeing her son on Mother's Day. But, I'm glad that it was out of our control and not for a lack of trying on either side! We missed you, Kathy!

Anyway, it was a good day. But, that's really not what I want to write about. I have some special people that I want to write about and appreciate. Hold on, this will probably be a long blog. Get your coffee cup filled up.

First, I have to say that I have an amazing husband. He and I don't always see eye to eye on everything. He's less romantic than I would have him be on most occasions, he takes his time to do things (and sometimes my time too!), and I have to prod him along on a lot of things, often making me feel like I'm nothing more than a nag (or a mom) to him. :) However, I have to remember the good things that I often overlook in my haste to get things done, get to point B, or just to do the next thing. I rarely have to worry that Brad is going to tell me no about most things. He might procrastinate, but he generally goes along for the ride on whatever I want to do. He'll be tired and ready to relax (like on Saturday evening) and I'll decide I want to drive to Ashland to see my family a day early... or that I want to go and get ice cream... or that I just want to go for a walk. Sometimes I can tell that he's not really that interested, but he still goes. I sometimes forget that he only does this to make me happy. He works hard for us at the office, but I'm always waiting on home for him to get home and help me with the next project. Most recently, he's tiled our bathroom, is in the process of tiling another bathroom, and will very soon be replacing our worn out carpet in our living room with hardwood. I know how hard it is to go to work everyday and then come home to only do more work. But, I don't often say that. What's more? He's even a more amazing father. He lacks some ability to discipline (but I guess I make up for some of that) and my kids totally recognize it. We have nightly struggles on who Daddy will help get to sleep, who he'll help get dressed after bath time, and the list goes on. He's the fun guy... the one who is greeted like a God when he comes home, only to be wrestled to the floor and pummeled with hugs and kisses. I know it can't be easy to be everything to someone... especially without appreciation. I love you, babe. And I thank you for making my Mother's Day so special.

Now, on to the mothers that I want to recognize.

I could literally write a book about my own mom (and have sometimes considered it as a possibility for future income!). I have never met a woman in my life that is strong as my mother and I suspect that I never will. She has done things that she would never consider amazing or strong. She'd never even acknowledge that she's been through THAT much. But she has... and she wears a smile on her face everyday. More important to me, though, is the type of mom that she has always been. She was eighteen years old when I was born. A kid... recently out of high school with no job or plan for the future. A kid with a baby. I think about what I would have done at 18with a newborn baby. How I would have felt that my life was over and probably would have stuck my head in the sand and let everything fall apart around me. She didn't though. She toughed it out with me and we grew up together. Or at least that's what we joke about. Of course, Dad was there too! :)

I grew up with more love than any child could know. My parents worked hard for every dime they made and they always made sure I had everything I needed or wanted. Even when times were tough, they made everything special. And the material things were great when we had them, but the times that were toughest financially are the ones that will forever stick in my mind... for all the right reasons. They taught us that love was more important than anything, that we could do anything we put our mind to and that we always had each other, no matter what. I can remember always having this confident feeling that the world was OK if I had my family. And, I still feel that same confidence now... my family is just a tad bigger now. :)

I think today was a special Mother's Day for me because I spent most of it with my mom. There's just something about spending time with her that can make me happy. We didn't do anything that exciting (except the pedicure), but it was nice. We laughed about our own flaws and the crazy things we both do... talked about our jobs, the kiddos, and all kinds of things in the world. I'm sure people wonder why I love spending time with my mom so much. I can honestly say that I don't know many others that enjoy hanging out with their moms like I do. It has to be because of our friendship. She truly is my best friend... the one person in the world that can connect with me without words and know exactly what's on my mind. I guess that just happens after 28 years of growing up together. (Sorry, Cilla, you know that your my very best friend that's not blood-related.) I can be me, all of me, with my mom. And most of the time, if I have something on my mind, she's two steps ahead of me. She knows what's coming before it happens... and I don't think I'm that transparent! She's always been that mom... connected with each of the three of us in the same way. She can almost always tell me when one of my brothers is having an issue way before they mention it... or sometimes before they even know it. Yet, she knows to be patient and let us deal with things on our own. Independence with the knowledge of having her full support, even when you're wrong. If only I can give that to my kids... if only I'd be able to read my babies that well that I would know what they need before they even know what's wrong. She's passed along a lot of things through genetics - the need for promptness, speediness, and order. I hope that there's a special gene for that part... and pray to God I got it!

I often wonder what I would do without her being honest with me. How would I make the right decisions, how would I figure out what to do with my own kids without her, how would I remember that recipe... I pray every night that I don't ever have to deal with a time without her help and advice; without her friendship and love. Life is good when you've got a great family at home... and that much better when you have a mom to share it all with.

I'm more lucky than most women though. I not only have the most wonderful mother and friend in my own mom, I have a wonderful mother-in-law that I love and cherish. She raised a pretty good man (or two, if you know her other son, Ryan). I think I've made Brad's head big enough for the night, so I'll just say that she did a great job there. Yes, I will acknowledge publicly that you should have made him work a little harder when you had him at home, Kathy, but I couldn't ask for a better husband or father for my kids. And, no, I don't think that was just fate. Kathy taught Brad so much that I could go on and on. By far my favorite thing that she passed on to him though is his respect and appreciation of others. One of the things that first attracted me to Brad was that he was not snobby at all. He came into our school as the new kid and could have disregarded about half of our class without missing a beat and could have been the most popular guy in a month. Yet, he was nice and treated everyone with so much respect. He never made anyone feel like they were beneath him. A boy that age doesn't just do that on his own... someone had shown him that you don't treat people differently because you think you're better.

That's not what I love most about Kathy, though. We, as people, might not always understand why we have the quirks we do... God knows that I like things a certain way. I have issues with my dishtowel laying in a certain spot or with towels being folded a certain way. It makes no sense to me why I have these issues; I know it's ridiculous. Yet, they still remain. But, I know someone else with the same kind of issues and we aren't related through blood. When I feel like I have OCD issues, I know that Kathy can make me feel like I'm normal because she'll understand. You see, our quirks might be different, but we have them and we understand each other's needs. As a matter of fact, I sometimes think that Brad can live with me because he understands me from living with his own mom. We really are more alike than not. And our biggest issue that we might have is that we might have the same quirk, but with a different style! :)

I can remember the first few times that I stayed at Brad's house when we were dating. Kathy and I ended up sitting up until late in the morning (usually 3 or 4), long after Brad and Rick would have gone to bed. We loved to talk about everything and nothing... just enjoying each other's company. And we still love to talk... it's just now we talk about something entirely different. Not only do we still love the same man... we now love the same two babies. And I could not look the whole world over and find a better grandmother for my kids. She reminds me so much of my own Grandma Dale that it's almost scary. She takes the time to enjoy every moment with them and they completely take advantage of her for it. She knows she's getting manipulated and just keeps on going. I love to tell her that "I told her so" when she's exhausted with sweat and sticky with candy, but I love it that she spoils them so much (even if they are complete hellions for two days afterward!). She has made my life so much better in so many ways. She is a wonderful friend that I can call any time, a mother that loves her own son more than life itself, and a grandmother that would do anything for her grandkids. And, she's a heck of a lot of fun... she can make anyone laugh, if for no other reason than she has the funniest laugh in the world. She loves to tell jokes, even inappropriate ones, and especially knock-knock jokes, which she knows that I hate, but loves to tell me anyway! And, you know, she's been through her side of hell, too. I can say that if strength in women is genetic, Bailey is going to be the toughest woman in the world. Between my mom and Kathy, they could take on the world... and win.

OK... two more women and I'm going to bed.

I already alluded to this woman... she's my Granny Dale. And she's one of the most influential women in my life. We (as a family) spent several years of my childhood living with my grandparents and it was truly a wonderful experience. Imagine having the most wonderful grandmother in the world with all of her attention focused on you... constantly. Basically, that's how my life was with Granny Dale. She could make the most simple afternoon a complete adventure. From having our little parties in the basement, complete with Kool-Aid and peanut butter and marshmallow on crackers, to picking blackberries on the hillside, Granny Dale could find pleasure and enjoyment in the simple things in life. She taught me to stop and appreciate nature. She showed me that God made all things beautiful and for a purpose. She taught me to play a myriad of songs on the piano and always found a way to make me feel more guilty than anything in the world for saying something hurtful to my brothers. I sometimes hear her voice when I'm feeling guilty for thinking or saying something wrong... they should probably make a bracelet with WWDD on it. You know, What Would Dale Do? :) I'll admit that she wasn't always perfect. I'll never forget the day that I saw her temper flare as my grandfather told her that she should soak her paintbrush in gasoline. She argued with him for a minute and when he kept ignoring her, she stood up and yelled, "Well, fiddlesticks, Leonard." If I had a drink of pop in my mouth, I would have snorted it everywhere... Cory and I couldn't stop laughing for days. She truly was and still is a wonderful grandmother.

Which really brings me to the toughest one I have to write. As you all know, I lost my Granny Charlene in August of last year. It was a really tough time and losing her has been hard for all of us. So, today, it was on my mind that my mom was going through her first Mother's Day without her own mom. We didn't talk about it. It's one of those things that you know is there, but you just don't talk about it. Honestly, thinking about her is what actually made me think that I needed to sit down and do a blog about my own mom... and then about Kathy... and Granny Dale. So, it's only natural that I write about her.

When I was a child, Granny Charlene was the strict grandma. Her house was perfect and her hands were old, even when she was young, from years of cleaning and working in the sewing factory. She was always old to me... far older than my Granny Dale who was actually the elder of the two, but far more fun. Granny Charlene had her own way about everything. She was less affectionate, but yet she found her way to baby us. She loved to cater to us with food and nice things. We always had wonderful clothes when we were with her. Our shoes were always spotless and she made us feel like that was the most wonderful thing in the world. And, you know, it really did kind of sink in. I love to look at my kids and see them all clean and dressed nicely with clean shoes. And I can see them having that same feeling of pride that we had with her. Now, I can admit, this sounds very Mary Poppins-ish without the singing and fun. Again, she had her own way. What I remember the most is the feeling of security and love. My grandparents did a lot of living off the land and enjoying the outdoors. They were always cleaning vegetables, making fresh pies from apples out of their own yard, or encouraging us to eat grapes off the vine. Everything I can remember about their house as a child was that we could live there without a phone or TV or any other thing in the world and we could live forever. I can remember watching my granny's hands as she would string green beans or roll out a pie shell. I can still see her little houseshoes and can still feel the softness of her cheeks. I want two things for my house that I don't have now - a porch swing and a big jug of water (you know, the Igloo kind that has a spout on the bottom - most people probably can remember them from football practices). The front porch always had an Igloo jug of icy cold water for hot summer days. The porch swing is where we spent most of our time at Granny's, eating popsicles and scheming up our next big plan. I miss those things, but I can also say that those are my childhood memories. I laugh about our relationship and how it grew as I got older. I can really laugh about some of our conversations about Brad and Papaw and how I could swear sometimes that Brad and I were turning into Papaw and Granny. I began to understand a lot more about her as we grew. And, yes, she was a far reach from Granny Dale and more opposite than anyone can be from her own daughter. Yet, she is the driving force in my mind when I look at the baseboards and realize that I really need to wash them off. She is the person I think of every single time I eat peanut butter fudge, turn on my electric mixer, or smell an apple pie. She enjoyed the special things in life - a drive through the country, a crossword puzzle, a picture of her grandkids. And, while she wasn't the fun granny that Granny Dale was, she had her own way and she most definitely gave me the best thing in the world... my mom.