Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley A lot of us remember our mother, and for good reason. Should someone pose the same question to me that I have asked of you, I would never hesitate to talk about the most important person in my life, my mother. I had two fathers, one that left when I was only a month old (he was not sure I was his son, and so he divorced my mom), and one that arrived when I was 5 (he had a 40-word vocabulary, 20 of which were cuss words). I did not realize until much later that he did not know several foreign languages (he actually did know cuss words in at least three languages).
It might be sad to admit that I have no idea who my father is, but in the greater scheme of things, it does not really matter all that much because he was never a part of my life. My mother was. Both of my fathers provided examples of what not to do when being a husband, father and role model. Given the circumstances, one becomes what one sees, or one makes it a point to never become what one sees. I chose to ignore the fathers who never were.
My mother apparently had a somewhat rocky start in life, and was probably not the best mother a child could have had, but she became a fighter, for herself and her children. She suffered through two of her daughters preceding her in death, and often said "It is a great life if you can stand to live it." I was raised essentially by my maternal grandparents for the first 5 years of my life, and everything good that I first learned was from them. After living more than six decades I can tell you without qualification that my grandparents were the salt of the earth.
They started out as farmers in Illinois before the turn of the century and moved north to Michigan when farming became impossible. They were Midwest stock, always recognized and honored God, and whatever homespun wisdom I have came from watching them very carefully, and always loving them as they loved me. That said, my mother was the biggest backer that I ever had. She loved me when I was not lovable, despite my faults and shortcomings.
She stood by me and fought for me when others would not. She encouraged me, financed me, and believed in me. My mother was a study in self-improvement, she actually worked her entire life trying to become a better person, and spend the last 30 years of her life, in my judgment, becoming close to an angel here on earth.
In the end, she was not self-centered or self-absorbed but naturally served others with love and compassion. She became an incredible woman, and many were saddened on the day of her passing. She was not a movie star, she was not famous, and she was not rich.
She simply had the most important job in the world, she was a mother. She was the only one who could comfort her son in his most distraught times, like when his first love in high school found another, and he thought his heart would never again be whole. There must have been 40 flower arrangements at her funeral, and one was a beautiful (although artificial) purple and yellow arrangement.
I brought that arrangement back from Michigan with me 12 years ago, and to this day, it sits beside me at my office in Tacoma (WA). My mother is never more than an arm's reach away from me. Shortly after her funeral I was passing through a religious articles store that a Catholic order of nuns was closing down. There I found a metal of Saint Mildred, an obscure Catholic saint from the middle ages.
My mother was not Catholic, but her name was Mildred, and that metal has been around my neck, day and night, for 12 years, in honor of her. As a father and grandfather, my message to all mothers is to love your spouse, love your children, love your family, and however mundane you feel your existence may sometimes be, remember that your most important mission in life is to be a mother. There will be no greater calling, and there will be no greater reward. Your legacy is established, and your love will not be forgotten by those you love and serve.
They will love you forever as you have loved them. May God Bless You and Your Family this Wonderful Day, (I love you Mom).
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