Too recently, I realized for the very first time how difficult it must have been for you when we moved to North Myrtle Beach in 1982. I was a junior in high school; your youngest was in middle school; your oldest, a college freshman. The house we were building wasn’t finished, so while we waited, we stayed first in one rental and then another.
I gotta tell you: I thought I was the one with the problem. I mean, I had just moved from my beloved friends, my sister/soul mate was away at college, and I had the most annoying little brother ever born. Plus, we’d had to leave the family pet behind with friends while we stayed in the rentals. And school. And homework. And woe was me.
I never thought about how much harder it would have been if it hadn’t been for you. When I look back now, I can see the obstacles you deftly removed from my path.
The first rental was beautiful, but so sterile that it felt far more like a hotel than a home. You couldn’t change much there, but you added just the right touches to transform the generic to the familiar. Thank you.
The second rental was—well—not beautiful. It was old and so rickety it swayed from the ocean breeze. I distinctly remember your upbeat presentation of the place, offering me first pick of the rooms. I realize now that it was sort of a dump, but I didn’t really know it then. Because of you, it was home. Thank you.
When we finally moved into our house, you went to extraordinary lengths to make my room special. You essentially designed the room (at least in my recollection) around the dollhouse I loved so much. You didn’t have to—I know my furniture cost more than anything you bought for yourself—but you did it just for me. I loved it. I probably didn’t mention it then, but thank you. It meant so much that you valued what was important to me.
Today, I have two college kids and a high school senior myself; I realize more every day all the sacrifices you made for me. Thank you.
- Thank you for making us start our day together as a family. Whether it was a hot cooked breakfast or cold cereal, we sat together, held hands, and said a blessing. Thank you for making those morning meals a priority. And supper too. Thanks for all those family dinners. I didn’t know why you made such a big deal of us all being around the table for the evening meal. Now I get it. Thanks.
- Thank you for always welcoming my friends. Thanks for getting to know them, for playing games with us, for feeding us. My friends loved coming to the Mitchell house. They still do.
- Thank you for all those times you gave up the family car so I would have a vehicle to drive. I’m sure I didn’t say thank you then, but thanks. Thanks for sacrificing your convenience for mine.
- Thanks for making the painful choice to leave us on occasion to take care of your own parents. I truly had no idea how hard that was for you. I now realize that when you would go and stay with Grandmama and Granddaddy, you must’ve really missed Daddy and us. You went, though, because it was the right thing to do. While you were gone, I’m sure you worried about us eating right, sleeping enough, doing our homework, and getting to our appointments and obligations. Thanks for trusting us. Thanks for teaching us that taking care of aging parents is an important part of being an adult.
- Thanks for not being needy. I understand now that it was hard for you when I spent holidays away from home. You never complained. You just made it clear that I was always welcome whenever I could be there. I didn’t realize how your heart hurt when we were away. Thank you for being selfless.
- Thank you for holding your tongue. I’m sure there were many times as I grew older that you struggled to refrain from comment. You let me make my own mistakes. I know now how hard that was. Thank you.
- Thank you for showing me how to be a minister. So much of what I know about serving God, I’ve learned from watching you. Your life has taught me to remember significant days in the lives of others, to make an extra meal for someone in need, to listen, to smile, to volunteer, to study, to pray. You love God with your whole life. I’ve learned that from you. Thank you.
Nearly every day, as I learn more about myself, I learn more about how your love has shaped me. I could never thank you enough for being the extraordinary person you are, for showing me how to be a mother, wife, daughter, woman. I can only live my life in gratitude, humbled by the knowledge that by cosmic chance, I was born to the mother of all mothers. I love you.
With grateful heart,