Family, Inspiration

Five Things I Really Appreciate About My Mom

Joy and her girls, Ruth Marie & Kathleen, at the Grand Canyon, July 2012.


Mother’s Day is a Hallmark holiday, and as such, I want to ignore it. I’d like to believe that I do a great job of letting my mom know how much she means to me all year long, so why would I observe this artificial “holiday” that merely lines the pockets of florists, card companies, and large retail establishments?

Nevertheless, today, as another Mother’s Day approached, I found myself perusing the hundreds of cards at my local large retail establishment. Finding the perfect sentiment, I balked at the $5.47 price tag and opted for an email card and this post instead.


Here are five things I really appreciate about my mom:

Grammy celebrating a recent birthday with 3 of her 5 very funny  grandchildren.
Grammy celebrating a recent birthday with 3 of her 5 very funny grandchildren.
  1. My mom has a great sense of humor. It’s important not to take yourself too seriously, and believe me, if Joy is your mom, you won’t. She has the ability to find humor in everyday life and has great appreciation for the absurd. When I was about 12, I dropped a ladder through the church ceiling (don’t ask), creating a large hole in the false ceiling just above the sanctuary balcony. . . on a Saturday. Needless to say, my preacher daddy was less than thrilled, and after a stern reprimand, sent me home to grab some tools. Breathless and in tears, I ran in and shared my story with Mother. Her response? She laughed (it really is quite funny in retrospect, though I didn’t get it at the time!). Another day I brought a stray cat home only to have it escape and terrorize the household. Daddy? He did a little yelling as he ran around trying to capture the poor feline. Mother? Giggles. When my sister Kathleen baptized herself with a big can of green Hawaiian punch? More giggles. Over the years, she’s gotten a huge kick out of her grandkids and their many endearing and often unintentionally funny sayings. Just this week, my mom and I had a good laugh over a “Jake-ism.” Even during the dark days of my dad’s final illness, we often found humor in otherwise grim situations. “Grammy” has taught our family to find the silly or funny in most every part of life. A good laugh brings healing and happiness and is just plain fun. Like my mom.

    My mom with her mom, the original family hostess.
    My mom with her mom, the original family hostess.
  2. My mom is a wonderful hostess. When you look up “hospitality” in the dictionary, I believe there is a picture of my mother just next to it. She gets it honestly, a legacy from her mother whose baked Alaska is still discussed in revered tones at family gatherings. She hosts many a gathering, frets over all the details, and always produces a fabulous event. Whether a bridge gathering, a family birthday, Christmas dinner, or a party for her “Single Sisters,” her hospitality exemplifies my mother’s innate kindness, warmth, and helpfulness. Many of us also head to her place when we need a sympathetic ear and a soft shoulder on which to cry. We are fortunate to be the frequent recipients of her friendly, comforting hospitality.
  3. My mom is tough and resilient. I’ve always known my mom as a working mom. When my sister and I were younger, she worked nights and weekends to be more present during our waking hours. As we got older, she began a career in nursing administration, working long hours and coming home to another whole shift of managing our household. She has long been a consummate multi-tasker, keeping copious lists and calendars to ensure everyone was where they needed to be when they needed to be there. She meticulously planned our vacations and our meals, getting really creative with salmon and mac and cheese in between paychecks. When my dad got sick and required nearly total care, my mom refused to allow him to languish in a long-term care facility. She brought him home and ensured his last months and years were ones of quality. She managed the health care bureaucracy, his care, his diet and his comfort with a tenacity that blew all of us away. We stand in awe of her amazing ability to get things done, no matter what.
  4. My mom is generous. What’s that parable about the woman who gave what little she had to God? My mom’s heart is huge, which translates to a generosity that outshines even those more affluent than she. She gives of her treasure, yes, but also, in equal measure, her time and her talent. Whether helping assisted living residents play bridge, guiding seniors in making insurance decisions, praying for others, caring for grandchildren (during the elementary years especially), providing financing for the odd family need, underwriting the trip of a lifetime, or doling out sage wisdom and advice, everything she offers comes from the heart. She lives her love!

    My mom and dad, Joy & Hal, on their wedding day, September 14, 1963.
    My mom and dad, Joy & Hal, on their wedding day, September 14, 1963.
  5. My mom is full of joie de vivre . . . the joy of living. How appropriate that my mom’s given name is Joy! No matter how tough or lonely life can get, my mom finds that nugget of goodness or life lesson and comes out of even her hardest moments with a renewed appreciation for the life she has. Her genuine enjoyment of her loved ones and friends, her great canine companion Buddy, her books and games, and her lovely home are infectious. Her great love for her family, her passion for justice, and her deep and abiding faith are inspiring.  My mom’s energy, dedication, and joy are truly a joy to us, her biggest fans.

Joy, Mother, Grammy – we love you! Because you’re in our lives, life is richer and better, and we are absolutely certain that every day is a “Joy-full” Mother’s Day!!


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