As I search through my earliest of memories she is there.
I feel her presence and I am comforted by words she may have said, long ago, to a little boy that needed to hear them. Words that she has probably forgotten, through the long battle that is raising children, but I have held them close to my heart, as treasure.
I remember having nightmares as a child and she taught me not to run. "Don't run. Turn and face whatever it is that's scaring you, Steve. Remember to do that and see what happens." I heard those words, her voice, speaking to me in my dreams. Those nightmares never returned.
As I became a young man she was there.
Not always knowing what it was that I needed but listening. Always listening. She infused an element of spiritual guidance and understanding into all decisions great and small. I learned from her that most problems can be solved by looking, not up or down, but in.
Twice, she allowed teenage friends of mine to stay with us for extended periods until their own home situations improved. I remember listening to her speak with them as if they were her own children. I remember how they trusted her and the words they said in return...
She was right there with a kiss and a tearful wave goodbye when I drove out west, down the road to a deeper journey. I didn't exactly know at the time but, for this trip, she had me well prepared. Many times in the years that followed I would show up at her doorstep with a backpack and my dog. Without question, I knew that I could stay as long as I wanted and leave as soon as I needed.
When I became frustrated with the trials and efforts of a nomadic life she would look me in the eye and say, "Stephen, this is important work you're doing." Understanding exactly what I was after.
Now, I am a father to my own family. Never has the role of my mother been made more clear to me than to see it through the lens of my own parenting. How she took each of her four children and interacted with them on a spritual and emotional level befitting their individual needs. She truly knows her own children and wonderfully enjoys her grandchildren.
My amazing and lovely Mom turns 70 years old this week.
Thank you, Mom. A collective thank you from all the lives you have touched so beautifully in these seventy years. Thanks to you I am the man I am today. I love you. Happy Birthday.