When asked if I would write something about my mom for Mother’s Day I felt anxious because no words can express the gratitude and love that I have for my mom.  She was one of 19 children and had to learn many life lessons quickly. She took care of her brothers and sisters and helped my grandmother with chores around the house.

Growing up I had very little appreciation for what my mom had done for me, but as an adult I am able to see the love and compassion that she shared. I don’t have children of my own but I would only hope that I would have been as good of a mother as she is.

My mom has taught me many valuable lessons in my life and we still laugh every time she looks at me and says “I told you so”.  She has taught me to be kind and caring and loving and compassionate. She has taught me that everything really will be alright, if you believe that it will. She has taught me how to be a strong and opinionated woman, without being arrogant or bossy.

Growing up I was fortunate to have my mom be a stay at home mom. She encouraged creativity and independence. Most importantly, she introduced me to cooking, which I will forever be grateful for. I helped her with the garden and canning our veggies. I also liked to host cooking shows, from behind our counter in which usually ended up producing a cake.

During my teen years I was becoming my own person, so I didn’t want much to do with either parent. We always had a strong family unit, but I was trying to figure out who I was and where I fit in. I think that’s typical for most teens. I was quick to call myself a daddy’s girl or even say that most of my traits were from my father, until I appreciated how much like my mom I really am.

It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I realized how far a mother’s love would go. I had a few years that I struggled emotionally, and she was there for me every step of the way. Again encouraging me and accepting me for who I am. It was in those moments that I realized my mom had become my best friend.

A few years later my father was diagnosed with a rare type of Parkinson’s, which changed all of our lives. They had expected to spend a retirement doing fun things: hanging out with their grandchildren, traveling, and relaxing. That obviously changed with the progression of my father’s illness and his inability to do everyday tasks.

My mom has remained the rock, when I am sure she wants to scream. She has remained the support system for my brother and me during our struggles with our father’s illness while trying to deal with her own emotions of losing pieces of the man she married.

Even through all of this, she is still a bright light. She shines when she laughs and when she spends time with her grandchildren. She still enjoys gardening and is trying to live her retired life the best she can. She remains the thread that holds us all together. And she remains my best friend.