I'm thinking of my mom, Elsa Mae Stott, on this Mother's Day as I do on most days. She passed away suddenly on February 10, 2010. She died while polishing her nails before a return trip to Chicago where she lived with Chuck and me. I know I was lucky to have her for as long as I did but, of course, it wasn't nearly long enough. After I lost her, people told me, "You're lucky she didn't suffer." And for that, I truly am grateful. I've lost others after long bouts with cancer or heart disease, as I know so many of you have, and it's horrible. But still......
She had me late in life for a woman in the 1950's. She was nearly 40 and had already lost a child to a miscarriage. My dad, Richard John Collins, was old for a father then too. When I was born, he was 51. I thank God every day they had me late in life because I think they instilled in me knowledge and common sense that I wouldn't otherwise have had.
One of my earliest memories is of my dad singing to me as he rocked me in his arms. My mom did the same and I still remember the songs. My dad hummed a song from an ad for Buster Brown shoes, oddly enough. My mother's song had no words but I find myself rocking my Chihuahuas to it to this day so it's never left my mind.
On occasion, I've been asked to deliver inspirational speeches about one
thing or another and I think one of the most important things younger people should learn and remember is that the time with their parents is so short. I know it's a cliche, but it's so true. When you're young, you feel like they will be there forever, always ready to commiserate or give advice, but sadly, not the case. As a matter of fact, by the time you're truly ready to listen and understand, poof, they're gone.
I remember a trip to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky with my dad and stepmom. (Sadly, my parents divorced when I was 2). I'll never forget my dad teaching me the difference between stalagmites and stalactites. He said, "Stalagmites wish with all their 'might' to reach the ceiling and stalactites hold on 'tight' to keep from falling." Isn't it funny the things you remember from your youth?
My mom and I took a lot of fun trips together too, most memorably to Miami Beach. She loved the Fontainebleau (before the reno) and so did I. We could (and did) sit for hours in the Lobby Bar people-watching, her favorite pastime.
People often ask me where I get my energy from and I know it's from my parents. They were the last ones to ever leave a party and you needed a hook for my mom. I thank them everyday for giving me their love of life, their curiosity and their hearts.
And I miss them both, today on Mother's Day weekend, as always.
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