Mother’s Day brings a flood of memories, both of my own mother and the days when my children were young.
Images of my childhood when my mother was the center of my world flash through my memory like those old-timey slide shows, starting out stilted and eventually blurring into movement as the slides go by faster and faster.
Some of my earliest recollections are of when my mother was expecting my little sister. As the oldest, I had been the center of attention for two parents who were a bit older than the norm when they finally had a child.
Then, suddenly, I had a new baby sister, and life was never quite the same. Two years after that, a baby brother came along, and our family was complete.
Those years were both happy and busy in my family. We lived in a small house where it often seemed like you could never find a corner to call your own. I know my mother worked hard to keep everything orderly, to cook us dinner every evening, to make sure our clothes were cleaned and pressed and our lessons done.
People today still tell me that we were my mother’s life, and I know now that is absolutely true. She gave so freely to us. She was not a gushy woman, just the opposite. She showed her love through her actions most of the time, rather than through her words.
A brownie camera moment that is perhaps frozen in my memory is a photograph of me standing with Mother at the edge of the ocean when I was about 3 years old, looking out at the horizon, holding hands as the waves came in. A vast expanse of sea and sky and sand is all around us.
She looks so beautiful standing there in that black and white photo, her brunette hair and her white bathing suit plain but elegant. I look so small. When she was beside m,e I always felt safe, and knew no matter what, I would be taken care of.
One of my greatest regrets in life is that I didn’t show her and tell her often enough while she was alive how much I loved her. We were frequently at odds over things throughout my life, but now I know that she was the one who was right most of the time, and I should have listened more closely.
I should have spent more time with her, especially after my father died. I can’t go back in time, and I can only hope that somehow she knows how much I think about her and how much I always loved her, and still do.
She stayed at home to take care of us, she always sacrificed for us and she always put us first in her life. She expected a lot from us in return, including that we be good parents ourselves when our time came.
My generation has often been called the “me” generation.
Our parents grew up in the Great Depression and came out of World War II. Both my mother and father served in the military, my mother as a Navy nurse, my father in the Army.
They came home to a time of peace and prosperity, when traditional values like country and church and family were the most important. They worked hard to make a life for their family, just like most people back then.
Whenever I see a red rose around this time of year, I think of my mother, who loved roses. I think about our kitchen table, where we sat down together at least twice a day, almost every day.
I remember all my mother did to try to mold me into a better person, and how she continued to pour out love to my own children as a grandmother.
I have been fortunate to do a lot of things in my life, and I know none of it would have been possible without her sacrifices and guidance.
I know that while I love my own children with all my heart, and tried very hard to always be a good mother, I was never as good a mom as my own mother was to me.
Standing where I stand now in life I also wish I had spent more time when my own children were little just holding them.
I hold the memories of their childhood close today, and know that Mother’s Day is one of the most cherished times of the year because it reminds us of what is really important in life.
Rebecca Johnston is editor of The Cherokee Tribune.