Dearest Mom,

We’re approaching Mother’s Day, 2010, and it seems every year that goes by and the more mothers I know, the more I marvel and appreciate what a wonderful mother you have been and continue to be. If you didn’t have a 60 year old daughter, you could get away with claiming you’re a heck of a lot younger than you are!

You and Daddy gave us such a wonderful childhood! The hundreds of evenings around the big round table in the kitchen (that was big enough for the two of you and the five of us children) —and the big round lazy Susan in the middle that we all loved to spin—was  surely an important incubator for the interesting and productive adults we have all become. I cannot imagine how you managed to feed us all so well for so long! Of course, it is one of your gifts, and before we were even all out of the nest, you rechanneled those talents, and you are still known far and wide as an incredible hostess. You seemed to be able to pull off a cocktail buffet for 100 people as easily as a dinner party for six, and whatever ability I have in that arena (my sister Sarah got a big dose of those genes too), I credit to learning from you.

Summers at Woodside were a child’s best dream. You gave us the freedom to play and wander, but with swings and ropes and a tree house right in the yard (all thanks to Dad), we didn’t have to wander far until we got much older. You helped us pack food for our adventures in the mimosa tree, where we rigged up pulleys to haul our buckets of food up and down. You took us for walks in the woods where we learned to recognize dogwood, mayflower, rhododendron and—of course—Great White Running Nasturtiums!  🙂 We caught lightening bugs at night and I’m sorry we scared you when we put a jar under your bed and you woke up in the night seeing the flickering light and thinking the bed was on fire.

Tea parties! I still have the beautiful child’s tea set from New York and look forward to using it with grandchildren some day. I wasn’t much for playing with dolls, but you and I did have such fun together at our parties!

I remember you working tirelessly in the vegetable garden and bringing in the bounty to clean and prepare. Some of our best (and most awkward) conversations were sitting side by side shelling peas, stringing beans, or shucking corn. We canned and froze and made jam and pickles and relish. To this day, I’ve never seen a double door freezer as big as ours was except in a commercial institution! And of course, that brings memories of the laborious process of cleaning and defrosting the freezer which had to be done from time to time. The frost-free freezer is definitely one of the better inventions of modern times!

I’d like to know how many hours of our childhood we spent down at the lake, swimming and boating with cousins, or how many times you cheerfully packed picnics and food to haul down there for summer gatherings. As we got old enough to peer over the steering wheel, we couldn’t wait to be allowed to drive the car up to the house to fetch something that was forgotten.

Rainy days and winter must have been something you dreaded with all of us in the house,  but what I remember are tents pitched by throwing blankets over chairs and card tables or games you played with us—Life, Chutes and Ladders, Checkers. How did you do it with five children! You claim that we older ones helped you with the younger ones, but it never seemed like a chore, just a house full of happiness!

One of my happiest memories is cuddled up with you on the sofa as you read to us. We must have fought over who got to sit closest to you…or maybe the boys were too restless to sit for too long…but either way, those sessions instilled a love of reading and learning that we all five still have. Seeing you read, even to this day, was an important lesson about priorities.

With all of the tasks of running a household with five children, you still managed to do things for others. You were always active at church and helped with various community outreach projects. I remember loving it when you had altar duty and I could help you prepare the altar and flowers. You were a role model for a life that balances duty, work, play, service and generosity.

What resonates throughout our days of growing up, though, is that you were THERE and we felt totally LOVED. You had a gift for noticing things that we each were good at or interested in and encouraged those things. Remember how you and took those self-teaching art lessons (that talent didn’t stick, but you gave me a chance to pursue that interest), and then another summer we both took sewing lessons? If we were interested in dinosaurs, you and Dad took us to the Natural History Museum and if we were interested in ducks, you took us to the Eastern Shore. If we showed an aptitude for music, you made sure we had instruments and encouraged us to use them. You still do this with your grandchildren, who all love getting articles or books or emails about something you saw that reminded you of them.

So I am left today with a heart full of love and gratitude for you, Mom. Thank you, and HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

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