A Birthday Card
A few years ago, the family gathered for Mom’s birthday. I read aloud the following letter. She still thanks me for the copy I gave her.
When I reread the letter, it occured to me others might appreciate it because it’s a message to all parents and children. I removed specific family names so you can insert your own family members.
Moms are unique, but not unique like different, or cool, or hip, but rather, unique because our experience of our own Mom is unique to each of us. Among my siblings, the experience of my Mom is unique to the experiences we had with Mom. My relationship with Mom is different from your relationship with Mom.
Each of us has only one Mom, and each of us has a Mom. This is universal, we all arrived as a gift to the world through our Moms. So, as I talk about my Mom, perhaps you’ll find these thoughts to be true for you and your own mom. Or, maybe you will find the relationship you with your mom to be unique to you and your mom. No one else shares this relationship.
First, I’ll say how lucky I feel that my Mom is here on earth with me. And while that’s true today, as we get older, and despite my Mom’s insistence on remaining 39 forever, we both know we won’t be here forever. My lovely bride, Linda, lost her mom 10 years ago, shortly before my Dad left us. Today, I watch Linda’s relationship with my own children and I can see how much my mom has given me. Linda gives to my children just like my Mom gave to me (still does).
Today is a chance for me to say thank you to my mom and our God-given relationship. Here’s a tribute to my Mom.
Moms are parents, and my relationship with my Mom is part of my relationship with my Dad. To me, parents are part of my relationship with God. To me, I can see in my Mom the grandeur of God. To all parents, it’s obvious that children are little miracles given to parents to shepherd for just a little while.
It is only through the miracle of Linda and my own children, I can see myself as a miracle from God, a gift to my Mom and Dad. My own children are gifts from God because Linda and I, through our marriage, worked with God to bring into the world and raise 3 children, and we pray for our 4th who we to a miscarriage. And, likewise, God created me in union with the marriage of my Mom and Dad. Oh, what a plan God has for all of us.
I never thought of myself as a miracle. Once when Dad, Mom, Linda, and I were visiting up at the lake, our youngest was buzzing about the floor causing his usual disruption. I was complaining about the sacrifice this bundle of joy required. Dad told me a story about parenting me and my being quite similar to what I was watching. He summed up the story with this phrase, “do you think you were easy?” Apparently, I wasn’t a miracle all the time.
Perhaps the Aunts and Uncles here, and those hopefully in heaven are laughing and can point to stories about me when I was little, where the word, “miracle” isn’t the description Mom would have used for something I did when I was young.
I can remember being a bit frustrating to my parents at times; breaking windows, knocking out my brother’s teeth, pushing another brother on the ice, drowning friends in the pool, chasing my Sister around the table and generally causing mayhem around the home.
I can remember my Mom using soap to wash out my mouth, to this day, neither of us can remember what I said. I suspect, the sailor foul-mouth in me came out.
Of course, as parents, Mom and Dad forgave me, repeatedly; kept me around, loved me, took care of me, taught me, trained me and nurtured me. This is what parents are supposed to do for their children. And, so it was with Mom. No matter how bad I may have been when I was young, Mom forgave me.
Love comes in many different shapes and sizes. There are books on love, and scripture to be sure that tries to give words to explain love. But, frankly, love in my experience, is what my Mom did for me, and has done for me all my life. It’s what Linda and I do for our children.
Love is what my Mom has shown me, by her actions, all these years. Love, is in fact, endless, boundless and forever. It is a gift from my Mom to me that costs me nothing to receive, and her nothing to give. It is given often and can be assumed to always be available. It is, I might say, a rock in my life that I know I can count on. Not just because it’s always been there, but precisely because I know it will always be there.
There’s plenty of stories of Moms’ love, not just for me, but for all my siblings, Uncle Paul, Dad, family, and countless friends. The list is endless but here’s a try; from hugs and kisses and snuggles in bed as a kid to making fabulous feasts at Grandpa and Grandma Watza’s, to Walnut lake, to the Higgins Lake cottage, to paying for; college, St Bede, sports, scouts and so much I don’t even know. To supporting us in School, watching plays and sports, teaching us how to garden and have a Pepsi at the picnic table after hard work and so many wonderful stories growing up. How lucky I was to be loved by my Mom.
You might have noticed, I love the virtues. That’s because Virtues are actions humans take that are divinely inspired, grace-filled moments of love that last for a lifetime and take heroic commitment, discipline, and sacrifice. If you have love for a lifetime, love from Mom, Dad, or especially in your marriage, this is a gift of grace from the Holy Spirit and God himself that gets passed on through us to our children. Love of God and each other is a Holy Gift of goodness that breeds more of itself when given away. Our legacy is this gift to us from our Moms (parents), and through us as parents to our children.
God tells us we can have a slice of heaven here on earth; unmerited, unwarranted, no strings attached lifelong love of each other. Mom kept a commitment of love and fidelity to my Dad which is a commitment to me, Patti, my brothers, the grandchildren and now the great-grandchildren. Passing on love as my Mom has done is a gift that keeps on giving, thank you, Mom.
Mom’s gift of love while awesome isn’t the best gift. Her constant, unfailing faith in God is the greatest gift she’s given me. She’s modeled this for me all my life.
As I watched my niece’s baptism yesterday, I’m reminded that all of us came into this world and we’ve all been baptized into Christ’s kingdom. Before I have any recollections from life, I was baptized and held by my mom just like my niece and nephew held their newborn daughter. My Mom and Dad said those same words from scripture, speaking on my behalf that I am raised in the faith, to believe in God and his promise of heaven. These are the exact same words Linda and I spoke on behalf of our children. Family, love, faith is amazing.
My Mom has modeled her faith which she got from her parents. Up at the lake, or down in Florida, when we spend time visiting with Mom, in the morning can always find her praying and being thankful to God for all she has, I suppose that’s a prayer of thanks even for me.
I can’t say for sure where she got that from, but I know Grandpa Kennedy helped at St Alan’s setting up before mass. Faith was important to him, he passed it to Mom, who has passed it to me, and in turn, I am passing it to my children. Passing on the faith isn’t a private affair, passing on the faith is something family does together. I can remember many a family summer party that included mass being offered as part of the festivities.
I pray that my own children understand what a gift it is to be given the faith, the grace, the love, that comes from God. What this means in their lives and hopefully, they to will pass it on to their children. This is the cycle of life that’s so wonderful. God’s plan is the legacy of our children, our purpose on this planet is to leave souls that follow us to heaven through the gift of loving, Godly parents. My mom has prepared me well for life’s adventure here, the playground of life where we’re tested in faith and love.
Mom (Dad too), thank you for making my time on earth a slice of heaven.
Your Son Don