Sunday, May 10, 2015

Reflections on Mothers Day

LaVerne Antoinette Willers - October 29, 1939 - April 17, 2015
― Erma Bombeck once wrote:
“When your mother asks, "Do you want a piece of advice?" it's a mere formality. It doesn't matter if you answer yes or no. You're going to get it anyway.” 
My mom had another way of saying it…
she’d usually start out with something like, 
“Don’t get mad, but …”
and then she’d tell us what she felt we needed hear.
Speaking the truth.
Now, maybe it was my mother’s truth
—but, she loved us enough to tell us
…even if she thought it may not be easy to hear. 
My mom lived a life confronted by truth.
And I think
that is why she felt compelled to speak it. 
When I was 14 I wanted to understand my parents.
I wanted to know their truth.
So, I found a book called “Passages” it was about mid-life crisis. I thought what better way to figure out what was ‘wrong’ with my parents. 
That book truly influenced me because it challenged me to step out of my self
and reflect on mom and dad and their life journey.
It was an amazing journey into their truth.
At the age of 10
my mom and her little brother
lost their mother.
6 years later
they would lose their father as well.
I always wondered what impact this truth regarding life and death had my mom.
Perhaps it was this source of truth that
allowed my mom to have intimate bonds with her children and grandchildren
without clinging or feeling the need to hold on to them.
In June of her 18th year my mom and dad got married.
The truth of her love for my father,
although only in its infant stages then,
would bear itself out over 55 years.
A truth which transformed two individuals,
two I’s into a WE. 
I remember when little
asking her why we had to have a baby sitter?
My mom didn’t hesitate for moment,
“Your father and I,” she would say.
“We married each other, not you, and we going out.”
What an amazing truth about the love between a husband and wife. 
At the age of 28 my mom was facing medical bills
and the desire to send her children to Catholic school
—the year was 1967.
My mom was about to confront another truth-- 
being a woman-a mother
and needing to enter the workforce to support her family.
Taking the graveyard shift
so she could be home with us during the day. 
I remember many mornings before going to school,
entering into the bedroom where she was sleeping
and quietly trying to take a dollar or so from her wallet for lunch…
and my mom
would without opening an eye would say,
“Is that enough? Take what you need.” 
Providing for our needs. 
This truth of self-sacrifice and generosity
is one of mom’s most humbling truth.
If my mom was hosting a dinner or an event—
she would cover the entire costs
and would never even think it should be any different. 
After eating a meal at Joe’s of Westlake or at Nick’s of Rock-away—
she would always leave a generous tip for the server
and for the bus boy—
not to mention the tip she had already left for the bartenders. 
This source of generosity does not come from abundance,
but rather stems from the truth of living a life of self-sacrifice. 
At the age 40,
after 20 years of marriage
my mom revealed another truth about life and love with my father-
But this truth was not without challenge. 
At 18 I decided I was going to enter the seminary.
My mom was not happy.
“Why?” she would ask.
Once the dramatics were over, however,
she took me out to breakfast,
I think at the 'Doctors,' on Mission street
and she said the following:
“I don’t know why you want to be priest,
but that’s what you want and I want you to be happy.
But, if you really want it, you will fight for it.
There will be days you hate it,
and days you’ll want to walk away
…that is when you’ll have to fight to keep it.”
Then she said something to me I’ll never forget,
“I love your father, but it wasn’t always easy
—I loved your father so much
that I was willing to fight to keep him
and he fought to keep me.” 
Now, if any you knew my parents…
and were around them for any length of time…
you probably heard them fight.
But no one could deny how fiercely
and how strongly they loved each other.
What an insightful truth for anyone in a relationship. 
Which brings me to October 2013,
my mom is 8 days away from turning 74,
she has been receiving dialysis treatment
for the past 5 years due to kidney failure
and the man she has been married to for 55 years passes away. 
My mom’s physical frailty
is now crushed by the truth of a broken heart. 
A few weeks after
I recall calling my mom
or perhaps she called me as she was known to do.
Asking her, how she was doing. 
She simply said,
“The hardest thing for me is being alone.
Now, when I come home from dialysis,
there is no one waiting for me.”
Talk about a powerful truth.
“Mom, dad has been waiting you—
but the truth now
is that dad no longer has to wait-
you’re home .” 
you lived a life that taught your children three undeniable truths:
to love unconditionally –
to give graciously –
and to live fearlessly.
Mom, your truths will live on is us—I promise
in your children-me, Eddie and Debbie.
They will live on in your grandchildren, Jenny, Benny and Michelle
and in great-grand daughter Jada. 
Mom, your truths will also be carried on by all who knew and loved you. 
Happy Mother's Day, mom. God Bless!
Love you mom--Kenny, Debbie and Eddie