A few days ago, I wrote that I had essentially exhausted my treasure trove of writings that I planned to use for this poor attempt of blogging. A day or so after posting that, I realized that I had another set of files that had some writings as well. Not sure if any are “blog worthy”, but I do feel led to post this one. I wrote it almost exactly 5 years ago. She was all a kid could ask for and everything a grown man would want for a friend.
Norma Brittain Walker(April 29, 1937- October 2, 2013)
She was born Norma Lucille Brittain on April 29, 1937. On November 3, 1955 she became Norma B. Walker. That was her name until she left this earth and entered heaven on October 2, 2013. It was on June 2, 1964 however, that she became my Mom. It’s been 1,175 days (a little over 3 years and 2 months) since she died. I’ve planned for years now to write about her but time has its way of getting in the way. Today’s date is December 20, 2016. As we all do during the holidays, I’ve had Christmas’ past on my mind and that takes me back to my childhood, to my siblings and of course to my parents.
Like all children, I don’t remember the first time I met my Mom, but I know what was going on in her life and in her heart. She loved me deeply, unconditionally and eternally the moment she first laid her eyes on me. When she first held me, the first time she saw me smile, the first time I looked into her eyes… those things only deepened her love. She was 27 years old and was mother to a soon to be 6 year old son and a soon to be 3 year old daughter. Her heart was more than capable of providing enough love to all three children.
Some of my earliest memories of her are simple things… her smile, her eyes, her touch, her caring. Caring is such an important trait. So real, so genuine, so easily recognizable. She absolutely cared for everyone in her life. Of course, her husband and children were first and foremost. Caring often involves being completely unselfish. She put everyone’s needs above her own.
They say “If Mom ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”. That may be true, but in my house, if everyone was happy… safe, loved, cared for… then Mom was happy. She loved my father with everything she had. Understanding, forgiveness, patience, encouragement all seemed easy for her. I know they weren’t of course, but she took her love for her family seriously and whatever was required, she was willing to give.
That was perhaps some of the earliest lessons I learned from my Mom. Learning from her was a lifetime journey. She’d probably be surprised to hear that her children “learned” from her. Dad was the one who was wise, the one who dispensed life lessons. The one who usually offered words of advice. Mom was just the supporter, the one who would “stand by her man”, the one who might say, “Well your father is right when he says…” My father’s love, advice and influence in my life will be cause for another essay, but it must be written how much my Mom taught me. How much I love her, how much I miss her, how much she met so many needs in my life.
Oftentimes it’s said that your Mom will be the only woman who will never leave you, never stop loving you, never cheat on you, never break your heart. Those words are so true. I was lucky enough to have my Mom in my life nearly 50 years. As we both aged, we became such good friends. We thoroughly enjoyed spending time together. Most often our visits were just her, Dad and I. We talked about everything and nothing, usually Dad and I doing most of the talking. Her quiet involvement, her well chosen words, her looks, her eyes, her smile… I miss them so much. I must admit, that tears have flowed most of the time while writing this. It hurts… it feels good… it’s healing to feel this love again… to think about it… to attempt to put feelings into words.
When I was a child, she was fiercely protective of me if it was required. I was your typical kid for the most part, but I had my challenges. She didn’t let me make excuses for them, but also wouldn’t let others take advantage of them. She encouraged me to go to speech therapy to work on my stuttering, she was so proud of my success in elementary school, so understanding of my struggles sometimes in junior high and high school years. I often felt so awkward and introverted during those years, but never when I was with her. Being with Mom was always completely enjoyable… safe, comforting, relaxing, helpful, accepting. There was no one better to be with, especially if you felt vulnerable in other parts of your life. They say “There’s no place like home”… true… but I knew, “There’s no place better than being with Mom.”
As I became a man with my own life, career, marriage… Mom and Dad both became two of my best friends. Mom and I didn’t spend as much time together, yet our love grew deeper. She loved me and loved those that I loved. As I learned about relationships, sacrifice, patience, understanding… all of Mom’s examples were right there. I wasn’t as successful as her in some of these areas. She never judged me though, never scolded me. There were times that there was complete despair on my end, and it was Mom who passionately told me, “Rodney, you’re a good man, you’re gonna get though this, don’t beat yourself up over these things.” Whether it was work, finances, love… she ALWAYS had the right answer, the right support, the right way of listening and just being there… once again with that look, those eyes, that smile.
My mind has rambled as I’m writing this. Forgive my inability to to put all my thoughts into a smoothly flowing stream. I could write forever about her and never truly capture who she was, her impact on me, my siblings, my father. She was quite unassuming, perhaps a little bit of a wallflower, but oh so beautiful in her quiet loving ways. I had planned to write perhaps a list of all the different great memories of her… people, places, things we did/shared. I also thought I may write about her last couple of years and the times we spent together during that part of her life. Instead, I think I’ll end with two perhaps insignificant little stories of simple things.
As a teen, when we would talk about whatever, we’d share our feelings about different subjects. As I would say what my thoughts might be, she’d frequently reply “You said a mouthful there.” Something about that struck a chord with me at that age… I felt validated, intelligent, respected, loved.
Another completely random memory is from one Sunday afternoon, I was probably 6 years old, in the front yard with my brother and sister playing a game of croquet. Mom and Dad were sitting on the front porch. After one of my shots that I felt particularly good about, I excitedly jumped in the air. I remember hearing my Mom saying to Dad, “Wow, did you see how high Rodney jumped, he can really jump high!” It wasn’t said to make me feel good, she didn’t even know I heard. It had an impact on my little mind… I surely must be able to jump really high… my Mom just said so… Certainly, there are thousands of those types of insignificant memories in my head. I’m not able to share one or two stories that perfectly capture her influence in my life, Every day there are different ones that come to my mind, stay awhile, then move on as others replace them.
She was always able to make me feel peaceful… loved… safe… good about life. I miss her, she’s in my thoughts so often. I’m thankful for her. She was entirely everything that any boy would want for a Mom and memories of her life are everything that any man would want to have in his heart and soul. Thanks Mom, I Love You, Merry Christmas. The 3 years without you have been difficult at times, your absence the most difficult. You should know that we’re all doing fine, we’re still close, keeping in touch, and missing you. We all know that we’ll see you again, that all of our family will be together. I know that’ll make you happy… and all of us too.