May 08, 2011

Mother's Day

Ever since 2006, Mother's Day has been a bittersweet holiday for me.  My mom unexpectedly passed away in October 2005 at the young age of 60 and certainly that first Mother's Day afterward was hard.  Each year, the pain subsides more and the tears are fewer, but there is still a twinge of heartache when everyone else celebrates their moms and I'm left unable to physically hug or kiss mine.

My mom and I were quite close and I am SO similar to her in many ways that it's scary.  In fact, if I look in the mirror, there she is.  When I first started working on my family tree in college, Mom was so supportive.  She'd go with me to cemeteries, libraries, court houses, basements, and old general stores in the middle of nowhere because she not only thought it was fun, but she loved being around me; the feeling was mutual.

After I graduated and started really being "an adult," she started working on her own family tree (I had been mainly working on my paternal side at the time).  She'd excitedly call or email me when she connected with a new long-lost cousin, received a photograph from someone far away, or had family "gossip" to share.  She'd found yet another thing that brought joy into her life (she had quite a few!).

In October 2005, Mom, Dad, and I went on vacation to the Washington, D.C. area.  Dad had meetings to attend and we made a weeklong trip out of it.  The journey started just outside Richmond where many of her family had settled back in the Revolutionary period.  The Sanders family gathered in honor of us and a big potluck lunch was presented just because the "Texas" family (Mom was originally a Texan) had come to visit.  Later in the week, while Dad was in meetings, Mom and I tooled across the Virginia and Maryland countryside tracing the escape route of John Wilkes Booth; visiting the Congressional Cemetery where many patriots, Congressmen, and notable figures are interred; and laughing the whole time.

The trip came to an end and we parted ways at O'Hare Airport in Chicago; their plane going to Tulsa, mine to Little Rock.  I called her after I'd landed and we laughed again about our trip.  The next day, I received the call that she'd passed away taking a nap.

The next week was a blur as we prepared for the funeral, but by the time it occurred, the deep sadness had passed and we were able to savor our memories.  So many people whose lives had been touched by Mom either called, wrote, or came to the service.  It was amazing to hear stories I'd not heard before and to realize what an impact she'd had on a vast group of people.  Love was in the air that day and my family was lifted up because of it.

With each new Mother's Day without Mom, it gets easier to greet others with a heartfelt, "Happy Mother's Day!"  I've been so fortunate to have many strong motherly figures in my life; all of which I consider true friends.  In the time since Mom's death, I've also become an uncle, godfather, and "Uncle" which has brought more joy than I ever thought possible, helping to fill the gap left by Mom.

Today will be mixed with some sadness, but a lot of happiness as well.  We'll celebrate moms at church and honor them with a reception afterwards and I'll see many friends who are truly awesome mothers.  I'll reflect on the memories of Mom and marvel at some amazing moms' accomplishments.

To Dianne, Caroline, Becky, Carole, Marianne, Donna, Lynne, and each and every mother out there:  Happy Mother's Day!

Sandra Clarke Odom (1945-2005)
28 September, 2005 - Arlington, VA

© 2011, copyright Chris Odom
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