I almost lost my Mom eighteen years ago. In the middle of having a heart attack, she drove herself to the doctor's office and waited patiently as he called an ambulance. During her stay in the hospital, she survived two more heart attacks. As soon as she was released, she got down to business-- changing her diet and adding daily exercise to her routine. She walked in all kinds of weather. One day, she slipped on the ice and broke her arm. I can still remember her sitting at the table with a bowl of oatmeal in front of her, doing her arm exercises with a cast and pausing long enough to scoop a bite in.
That's my Mom. Strong. Resilient. Tough.
My Mom started losing her hearing when she was in her teen years. She met my father shortly after that, but he didn't mind that she was hard of hearing. They could still converse on the phone at that point. Smack dab in the middle of a conversation at a family BBQ, she suddenly noticed that lips were moving but she could no longer hear. She was 27 years old with four children and now she faced life with a whole new ballgame, as she could no longer use the phone.
My Mom has two amazing talents-- she can clean anything and she can manage money in a way that would make Dave Ramsey proud. When my brother purchased a house to rent out, he called my mom and asked her to come and clean it. In the house was a stove that had years of baked on food-- most people would have shook their heads at any attempt to clean it up. My Mom grumbled, but she rolled up her sleeves and tackled that stove with gusto. By the time she was done a few hours later, that stove gleamed. The rest of us stood around and admired my Mom's handiwork when she was done.
I've always said that my Mom can squeeze a quarter out of a penny. The five of us grew up with full meals on the table every night-- all of it made from scratch. I would come home from school to find the kitchen table covered in a sheet, with pasta drying out in strips. I can even remember Mom and Dad huddled around the Kitchen Aid, filling up a casing with sausage. Mom planned meals every week, cut out coupons, scoured the sales in town and stocked up. We had an entire drawer in the bathroom filled with toothpaste and soap from rock-bottom sales that Mom came across. We never ran out of toilet paper, because there was always at least a two-month supply stored somewhere in the house.
When Dad was diagnosed with cancer, I saw an amazing side of my Mom come out time and time again. Dad wanted to stay home, he didn't want to spend his final days in a nursing home. Mom whipped into action and the house soon had a ramp and a roll in shower. She kept track of a complicated medicine schedule and provided his daily care. For months, she slept on the couch and operated on minimal sleep. That's my Mom. Strong. Resilient. Tough.
When my oldest son became deaf, Mom started to ask us to teach her some signs in American Sign Language. She learned a few basic signs and took delight in watching David sign back to her. One of her favorite signs was the sign for "I Love You." We would pile in the car to head home after a visit to Michigan and wave the "I Love You" sign to Mom as she stood in the driveway. Mom would sign back, forgetting to leave the thumb extended, which turned the sign into a sign for "B.S."
We always left the driveway laughing. Mom eventually learned to sign "I Love You," with the thumb sticking out. But it's no B.S., Mom-- I love you too!