It’s Mother’s Day and I wanted to give a little shout-out to the two bravest women in my life: My mom and my grandma.
My mom and me
My mom has always been a spitfire. Raising two kids with my dad in the military and gone what seemed like more often than not, she had to be. Course, she was a Marine herself, so she knew how to keep us in line.
Mom at GI Jane day
She taught me independence and drilled into me that I needed to be able to take care of myself, no matter what. She taught me to be smart with money and yet, also how to shop like it was my job. (If it’s not on sale, you don’t need it. And if it is on sale, you might as well get 3. Different colors, of course.)
Mom on my wedding day
She’s beautiful, creative and smart – even flirting with the idea of going to college to use my dad’s GI bill. (She’s said maybe business, to which I told her she could take care of my business and leave the fun stuff for me.)
Mom modeling inaugural ball gown of Francis Cleveland
She takes care of everyone – whether it’s my sister or I who need a quick pick-me-up, my grandparents who visited for numerous winters, a neighbor who just moved in (some kind of baked good was usually in order), or a fellow military wife who just needed some help while her husband was gone.
My mom, she does it all. And now, she’s battling breast cancer. She opted for a double mastectomy and reconstruction last July and has since completed one round of chemo, had a hysterectomy and a few other “fun” medical adventures. She’s now on Herceptin for a while and the thing that really amazes me is that she’s done it all with a smile and a laugh – even when we joked about her fuzzy head. (My dad will probably disagree with me, as he’s been there while I’ve been 3,000 miles away and only talked to her a few times a week … but …. )
When I grow up, I want to be as accepting of all of life’s hurdles as my mom.
My grandma while visiting me in SD
My grandma, well, she’s quite the spitfire, too. She’s my mom’s mom, so at least we know it runs in the family. (The women in my family should probably come with a warning label.) My grandma and I have a special relationship. My mom and I lived with her for the first 5 years of my life, and really, my grandma sometimes feels more like my mom. She loves unconditionally, but sure won’t hesitate to tell you when she thinks you’re doing something stupid. But, even after you go ahead and do it anyway, she still loves you and lets you know it.
She’s always been there for me – she’s driven from Michigan to Virginia for Christmas when I was a kid, kept my sister and I for entire summers, surprised me with visits during college, was my “laundry fairy” when I came home from college, was with me when I moved to South Dakota, flew to Vegas for my wedding, and let my cats have run of the house when we visit her home.
Me and my grandma on my wedding day
She’s been through a lot the last 10 years – two strokes (and possibly many more mini-strokes), a diagnosis of ovarian cancer, surgery to remove the cancer, chemo, and now, the return of the cancer.
Me and my grandparents at my college graduation
When she had the two strokes, I was fortunate enough to be going to college right next to the hospital where she was staying. I think I spent more time in the hospital than I did my dorm room or my classes that semester. When the cancer diagnosis came down and surgery was scheduled to take place in Minnesota, I drove up for a surprise visit. And now, I’ve traveled up to visit (with the boys) twice since hospice has been called in.
My grandma on my wedding day
The thing that amazes me about my grandma is her ability to push on and conquer each day, even when I can see how tired she is. When she was in the hospital for her strokes, I was amazed that she could laugh at herself at times and push aside her pride when she knew she needed help. Now, even when she’s ready to go – even when the rest of us want to hold on so bad – she still gets fired up about somethings, make me laugh about something else, wield demands like the queen we joke she is, and always, always love us with her whole being.
When I grow up, I want half the strength my grandma has.
Since I’m unable to be with either of these two very important women, I just want them to know: I’m proud of you. I miss you. I love you.
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