Tuesday, March 10, 2009

In Honor of Mom

It's National Women's History Month. (And yes, I know it's National Craft Month too but today Mom is more important...)

I wouldn't say that my mom is infamous except there are many others who would disagree. I wouldn't say that my mom was the most amazing woman I've ever known but that would be a lie, because she absolutely was. I could say that she was no one special but she wasn't just special, she was spectacular. She was the best person, woman, friend, parent, daughter, wife anyone could have asked for. She was amazing.

When my mom was a little girl, she had long auburn VERY curly hair. It hung in ringlets that she vehemently wouldn't let anyone brush. The story says she ran in tears everytime her mom came close with a brush. I have one of those ringlets (yes I do and you can call me gross all you want but it's an awesome piece of my history). It's still as tight as it was when it hung on her head. I can imagine screaming in agony after sleeping on that hair... It had to be terrible. My own hair is extremely curly and dries in ringlets. It's horrible to brush out every day. That's why I straighten it. Mom used to straighten hers too. With an iron! She and my aunt used to iron each other's hair so it was more manageable. (We're not so progressive are we?!)

She played piano and flute from the time she was very young and sang like an angel. Truth be told, she played every instrument. She could pick up anything and play it; play it well even! She had perfect pitch too. You could hum something and she could play it. She could hear a song and play it. She could memorize things like it was the simplest task. She graduated college with a degree in musical performance and music education. After college (she attended Peabody Conservatory of Music and Eastman School of Music), she taught both public school music and private music lessons too. She helped people find their inner voices no matter what instrument it was coming through. She could help you find that place inside you where music comes from and it would flow through your instrument - flute, voice, fingers on a keyboard... She was an awesome teacher and trainer.

She wasn't just an artist with music. She painted as well and just as beautifully! There is a painting in my kitchen she painted that is gorgeous! Daddy has several paintings she did. Daddy is an artist too! (And coincidentally played clarinet quite well!) He's got a huge oil painting in his living room he painted.

Her artistry flowed into every single aspect of her life. She was a culinary expert and could make mud look and taste like a delicacy if she'd tried. How that woman fed a family of four with four small cuts of meat or chicken, a starch and a can of vegetables is beyond me. It takes me twice that to feed this crew. How she made everything so good is just as unfathomable to me. Not only did it taste amazing, it looked amazing too! And she could bake! OH MY GOODNESS, could she bake! They (food experts) say you're either a baker or a cook but not both. They didn't know my mom. She could make cookies, pastries, cakes, candy, ice cream, oh gracious she could make anything!

And her artistic abilities never stopped... She made jewelry, arranged flowers, could make masterpieces with cloth and a sewing machine and sometimes by hand. You should only see some of the window treatments, wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, suits, blouses and all other items of clothing she made and home furnishings she covered. My house, my sister's house and my dad's house all feature things my mom made. The window treatments in my dad's house alone are worth a small fortune! She made foundation garments (ladies, you know what I'm talking about - camisoles, slips, half slips) that were GORGEOUS and so expensive with their beautiful lace.

Mom could crochet and knit. Her homes were always decorated so well it was as if we'd always hired a professional. No matter what my mom tried to do, she was not just successful, she turned it all to gold.

These are some of the tangible things she did. Let's talk about "service" oriented things... She cooked for the homeless at our church. She participated on the Alter Guild at church, was a member of the Junior Women's Club, Garden Club, various Music Clubs, sang in the Richmond Symphony Chorus, was the soloist for the church choir. She judged state wide music competitions, she taught students that participated in state wide competitions and won the highest of marks! She led parades through our neighborhood on holidays without batting an eye and inspired others to come and join in. They joined in with pots, pans, wooden spoons, kazoos, and anything else that they could participate with!

She would help us with school projects, taught us the responsibilities we needed to learn to take care of ourselves and our homes. She taught us how to cook and clean and style our hair to always look our best. She took us to the beauty parlor on very special occasions so we could be treated to be feeling special. She looked like a queen at all times and taught us that we should always always put our best foot forward. She never said the words, "You never know who you'll meet so you better always be prepared to give your best. First impressions are the most important ones." Despite never having said it, you know she lived it and expected the same from us. She led us as a family by example. Daddy was always so so busy with work that much of the family rearing responsibility was all on mom's shoulders. She took it all seriously and did it all well. Like I said, she led by example. I grew up knowing I was expected to offer nothing but my best.

Sounds like the perfect person doesn't it? Well, there's more. Whenever someone needed her, she was there. A dear friend of ours had a very difficult pregnancy. They put her on strict bedrest for most of her pregnancy and having a 2 year old already running around the house, being on bed rest was a problem. Mom stepped in. I remember vividly spending many days at the S* house watching and playing with their little one while C was on bedrest and mom tended to what ever needed to be done. As a result of all that, Mom and Daddy were blessed to be asked to be the Godparents to the new baby and this little one was named for momma. Another little Jeanne was born. I tell ya - there's something about what ever she touched. That woman (the new "little" Jeanne) is an amazing woman in her own right! When someone was sick, momma made food. When someone needed to cry or had a problem, momma had a great shoulder and advice if you wanted it (she never gave it unsolicited). She was a taxi driver, a therapist, a teacher, a mom, a friend, a chef, a wife, a daughter (and an excellent one at that!), a Faithful, Reverent, God Loving women.

Her love for the Lord began when she was very very young and just seemed to grow and grow. She shared that love with everyone and eminated His love with every note she sang or spoke. When momma smiled, she lit up a room and everyone who saw her was touched by her smile and the melodious sounds of her voice. She was amazing.

The one thing that shone through everything was that everything she did, she did with LOVE. Everything she said was with love. Everything she was, was love. Honestly, I think God sent her here especially for anyone who needed a touch of love at any given moment. My grandparents said she was forever bringing home "wounded" children. Anyone who needed some TLC, she would bring home. It was either a coat, or some clothes, or some food or just a friend, my mom would cling to it like it was her personal mission in life to ensure they were "healthy" again before venturing out into the world.

Obviously my mom was phenomenal. From the time she was born until the day she died, she touched people's lives and souls. I adored her.

12 years ago, March 3, 1997, Momma went home to the Lord. It still bothers me and beginning in January every year until the 4th of March when mysteriously, all that emotion goes away. I am thankful, grateful, blessed and adore the fact that wonderful woman was a part of my life for 36 years, 10 months and one day. Everything I've learned, done and love is directly related to her. I supposed I magically am "ok" on the 4th of March because I know where she is. I know that she is singing for God now, keeping company with all the other exceptional angels that inhabit special places in the Kingdom. I pray one day to be lucky enough to be in the glorious woman's company and His as well.

I leave you with this. No matter what, your mom will always be your mom. Whether or not she was a good one is not really the issue. The deal is this. We ALL make mistakes and sometimes the mistakes are huge. We're fallible. We deserve to be forgiven. It is through my mother's forgiving spirit I have learned to let go of some of the heinous things that transpired in my past through no fault of my mom or dad's. It is through my mother's memories I can say to everyone, NO MATTER WHAT IT WAS, no matter how hard your past, your own mistakes, the mistakes of your mom (or dad) they are just that, mistakes. They are errors in judgement. They are ommissions of sound decision making; bad choices. All of these things are normal human functions and we while we should all recognize our errors, omissions, mistakes, we should and deserve to be forgiven for the same. Just one of many lessons my mom taught me.

So, while you take time today (and every day I hope) to be thankful for your blessings, remember, those blessings didn't just happen to you. You earned them. You were blessed either because of choices you made or lessons you were taught. Sometimes our lessons are really hard and we hurt, but we learn. Thank those who helped you learn, even the hard way. Offer them your forgiveness and show them your beautiful spirit.

Momma was a beautiful spirit. I hope I have helped continue sharing her spirit by remember the things she taught me, shared with me, showed me and LOVED me into learning.

Here's to the most amazing, beautiful, phenomenal, wonderful woman I've ever known. I can say with certainty, everyone who knew her would agree. This woman's history was much more imporant than she ever knew. She touched more people than she ever knew. She meant more to people than she ever could have guessed. She is indeed a part of more history than she was aware. Thank you Lord for giving this woman to the world. They needed it more than they ever knew!


Sheri said...

Lissa...that is so incredibly beautiful! Such an amazing tribute to an amazing woman, who obvioulsy raised an amazing daughter, who grew into an amazing woman too. That, in it's self is a legacy she left behind. Thank you for sharing your Mom with us...I make a point to tell my Mom everyday I love her...she reminds me alot of your Mom ....Sheri

Ronnie McCray said...

Wow, what a loving tribute to your Mom, Lissa! She sounds like an amazing woman, just like you are! Thanks for sharing her with us!