Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my mom’s 73rd birthday. I have no trouble in posting her age since she doesn’t have a computer, so she’ll never know. Besides, caring about such things has long since become a thing of the past.

There were times while I was growing up that my mom had to be very much like a dad for me. Don’t misunderstand. I had a dad while growing up. But due to the nature of his job, there were many times when he just couldn’t be home and take time to spend with me in those “father/son” bonding activities. One event which has always stuck out in my mind was the time my mom decided to take me to the local speedway in Petaluma, CA where I grew up. It’s a 3/8 mile, semi-banked clay oval track. Now to appreciate the irony of this activity as I do, one would have to know my mom. She was pretty much the original girly-girl. Not materialistic in any way, but there was nothing about her to suggest she’d actually be into stock car racing. Finding my mom at a race track is slightly less likely than Snoop Dogg recording a CD of Willie Nelson cover tunes.

But that was my mom. She was always willing to take me to things and give me things that boys do and need, even if she didn’t understand or like it.

In the early stages of my parents’ 8 year term of living in Costa Rica, I came across a scene back home as I was walking through a school yard on my way to a softball practice. I saw a group of young boys, ranging anywhere from probably 6 years old through 15, playing basketball. I remember there were only 7 boys. You can’t have three on one team, and four on the other. So what did they do? Yep, someone’s mom was out there with them. She was wearing a long skirt and funky shoes which were clearly basketball inappropriate. She knew nothing of the game, evident by the way she played defense…when her team had the ball. But she was out there anyway…playing with her kids.

I literally had to stop…and broke down in tears. In fact, as I write this, my eyes are welling up. Why? This scene didn’t include my mom, but it reminded me of her in so many ways. Until that moment, when my mom was thousands of miles away living in a foreign country doing ministry for God, this scene demonstrated my mom’s love for me. Her devotion to me. Her commitment to make sure I could do all the things a little boy needs to have a healthy development.

Today, she is physically unable to participate in activities such as car races or basketball. Heck, she can’t even make me my favorite meal or dessert. Being unable to do things for others is the most difficult thing for my mother to accept. Having to rely on others to wait on her and take care of her is very difficult for her. She spent her life serving and taking care of others. The men whose lives were so well taken care of by this remarkable woman, must now take care of her. I’ll tell you more about my dad on Thursday, because that’s his birthday. But today is my mom’s day. Anything good in me came from her. Anything good in me is God’s reward to her.

Mom, you’ll never read this…but I hope my life and my love for you tells you that I remember everything you did for me. Everything you gave up for me. I never saw most of the tears I know you shed for me throughout my life when I had difficult times. Your strength in times of crisis has been an inspiration to me. Your tenderness and sacrifice to make sure others wanted for nothing is something I can only hope to emulate.

You are the standard by which all others are measured.

I love you. Happy Birthday.

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