By Yvonne Hester
Special to High Desert Daily
(Victor Valley)–Each year when Mother’s Day rolls around, I contact my sister and brother and we plan how to celebrate the day with our Mom. This year is different. My mother died six weeks ago, following a lengthy and courageous battle with cancer, and for the first time in my life I find myself in uncharted territory.
This year Mother’s Day is not about planning, buying gifts or cooking brunch. For me and my sister and brother, it’s about remembering and cherishing the life we were blessed to share with an amazing woman, called Mary Reyes.
As a child I was in awe of my mother. She was beautiful, movie star gorgeous, intelligent, strong, talented, passionate and determined. My mother didn’t bake or serve on school committees. She worked a full-time job, once we started school, served at church, and took care of her husband and three children. But most importantly, my mother shared with us her faith in Jesus Christ and gave us a solid foundation for life.
A woman of great generosity, my mother gave to people in need throughout her life. She lived on a fixed income like many seniors, but she would find ways to reduce her living expenses to have the money to help others and donate to her favorite charities. As I child I used to wonder why it didn’t bother her to serve others first, or to always be the last one to sit down. When I asked her why it didn’t bother her, she would just say, “I love you.”
Now my mother wasn’t perfect. She was impatient and had a temper that she learned to control through the years. Later in her life, we talked quite frankly about regrets. We were very close and talked daily, and became even closer as the cancer progressed through her body. We left very little unsaid.
I know that everyone’s experience with their mother is or was not a good one. Following my mother’s funeral many people shared that they wished they had the kind of relationship I had with my mother. I too wish that for everyone. But, I must confess it wasn’t always easy, because I too am strong-willed, passionate and determined. Sometimes we didn’t see eye-to-eye or just drove each other crazy. Ultimately, we discovered how to build a strong relationship.
In discussing relationships, I have often heard people say, “there isn’t a manual on how raise a child or live with your spouse,” but there is. The Bible is full of relationship wisdom. Ephesians 5: 20-21 says,” Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.”
That’s how we ultimately made it work. We tried to approach life with an attitude of thanksgiving, and then we placed the other one’s needs above our own. I am not saying it was always easy. There were times of great frustration. It became easier in time, because we learned that putting others first is what real love does.
The last year of my mother’s life was difficult. I watched this pillar of strength weaken before my eyes. Our roles had changed by then, and I was now the caregiver and she the weaker one in need. It was now time for me to place her needs above my own just like she had done for me for so many years.
A few months before my mother passed away, she said, “I am sorry you have to do so much for me.”
I replied, “Mom, that is what is love does.”