When I look in my rearview mirror, I see her standing there, a silent sentinel watching, watching, until the van turns a corner and is out of sight. It has been the same for seventeen years now, ever since I made that first trip from home to college. My mom, standing on the front porch, watching over her children until she can no longer see them. A touchstone, a reminder that no matter how far I go Mom is always there, the northern star on which I set my compass.
This is the woman who held my hair back and stroked my face with a cool washcloth every time I was sick, who woke me up with songs in the morning while her fingers gently rubbed my back. The woman who made Cream of Wheat while singing the Cream of Wheat song on cold winter mornings, who made my lunch even when I could have made it myself, writing my name on the brown bag in black Sharpie marker in her flowing cursive hand. Another reminder that mom was there, even through the emotional upheaval that is junior high.
This is the woman whose arms are always open to me, who showed me that it’s okay to just need a hug every once in awhile. The woman who took my hand and led me to stand before my first casket, softly reassuring me that it was okay to cry as tears flowed freely down her cheeks. “It’s not easy,” she told me over my grandfather’s grave. “But in this culture, we bury our dead.” We bury them, but we don’t forget them, making the rounds every Spring to resting places that would otherwise be long forgotten.
This is the woman who taught me that in our house, we do the right thing, no matter how hard, no matter how popular. The woman who stayed up nights with me, watching while I finished countless papers and projects, who would not let me put off until tomorrow things that could be done today. The woman who trusted me enough to make the right decisions, but who left post-it notes on the bathroom mirror late at night instructing me to wake her up so she could make sure the choices I had made were, indeed, the right ones.
When I look in my rearview mirror, I see my mother. She is always there, watching, waiting, letting me go, with the knowledge that her lessons and her love will carry me wherever I need to go.
Thank you, Mom. I love you!