'Thanks, Mom' doesn't say it all

Posted: Sunday, April 15, 2001

This year, like every year, I don't know what to get my mom for her birthday.

Her birthday is April 25, and once again I have failed to come up with a good idea for a birthday present.

My mom, Suzette, is one of those people who it is ridiculously hard to buy for. She seems to have everything. When asked what she would like, her response is usually "Some peace and quiet."

My mom, like every mom, is special. She has stood by me through the very tough and the very good times. She has supported me in every decision I have ever made, including packing my bags and moving 5,000 miles away from my first home of McFarland in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

What present could possibly show my love like she has shown hers to me?

When it comes to my writing, my mom has always waited patiently for the responses to my submissions and letters. She has always been my best editor -- especially when my writing skated on the edge of a catastrophe of words. She guides me when I don't think there is much more road to be traveled and when I think my journey to be an author is going to crash down around my ears and leave me wondering what went wrong.

My mom was my cook, my maid, my teacher and my best friend for the majority of my life. She never once complained that I remember. My mom has gotten emotional over me or something I did more than once. She cried when I took my wife Christie's hand in marriage, but accepted her with open arms into the family. Tears came to her eyes when I packed up to move to Alaska, too, but she wouldn't let me unpack the boxes and stay because she said I should take the adventure of living here and make the best of it.

When I first started grade school, I always wondered why my mom was so mean about every aspect of my life and why she couldn't be cool like other moms were. It took until I reached adulthood before I realized how wrong I had been in my thinking. My mom was, and still is, cool and was always looking to make my day brighter and filled with fun while keeping me from getting hurt -- she still does.

Is there any amount of money that could buy my mom a present to show how much all of that means to me?

I am on the road to becoming a father now, and I know everything will be all right as long as I use all of the lessons I have been taught. About 80 percent of the teachings that pertain to the way life works came from my mom.

Grade school and high school taught me the meaning of team sports, good grades and individuality, but those institutions could not instill in me the meaning of friendship, love, loyalty and family -- my mom had already done that. College taught me that I will always bring my work home with me, that drinking before exams isn't a good idea and that sports didn't rule my life anymore. All of those high-paid professors and outrageous tuition bills didn't teach me to treat others as I want them to treat me or that no matter how big I get or how strong I am that there is always someone out there that is bigger and stronger than me -- I already knew that, thanks to my mom.

My mom was the person who waited up for me when I would come through the door at one in the morning after a football game. She was the person who always made sure I had a plate of supper waiting for me when I got there. She guided me with kind advice when I needed guiding and showed me the errors of my ways with a stern hand, if I needed that.

What do I get a woman like that for her birthday?

Before I ever stepped foot in a school my mom was my life. The world was only as big as where she drove me and the only food on this planet is what she cooked for me. I couldn't have survived without her.

Even after I moved away to college she made sure I would bring home my laundry every weekend and then cooked me a massive supper to make sure I would have enough leftovers to last the week. I don't think I every thanked her for it.

Now I am in the real world -- with a wife and a child on the way --and I find myself wondering if, as a son, I did what I could to show my mom what she meant to me. I know I didn't always do the things that made her proud, and more than once I said things to her I regretted instantly, yet I know that she never held them against me.

What could I do for her birthday to show her that no matter what she thinks of her rating as a mom that I give her a 15 on a scale of 10?

I think I just did it.

Happy birthday, Mom. Thank you for everything you did for me in the past and everything you do for me now and everything I know you are going to do for me in the days, weeks, months and years to come. I love you.

Sam Eggleston is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion.

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