Small Hands in the Big World

Monday, July 11, 2011

Thanks, Mom… I get it now

I’ve always known my Mom loves me, never had a doubt about it. How much my Mom loves me, however, I don’t think I could truly grasp until having children of my own.  Nor did I fully appreciate all her efforts, enthusiasm, and exhaustion over the years until having kids myself (and I’m sure this appreciation will deepen even further once our kids are teens).

Tomorrow is my dear Mother’s birthday and it’s hard to know where to start when expressing my love, gratitude, and admiration of her. As a grandmother, she is generous, playful, involved, positive, affectionate and supportive. As a mother, she was (and still is) downright incredible.
Yes, that is a dove on her head... on vacation in California, my brother decided to put birdseed on her head.  Naturally, Mom thought this was hilarious and loved that the moment was captured on film.

My parents raised me and my brother in remote Glacier Bay, Alaska, until we were 7 and 10 respectively. When I say remote Alaska, I’m talking inside-the-boundaries-of-an-isolated-National-Park-remote and so many of the parenting “tricks” I use now to get a little break here and there simply weren’t available to her. She couldn’t swap play dates with friends (no other kids in the area), she couldn’t let us watch PBS Kids or pop in a DVD to keep us busy while she made dinner (no television), she couldn’t ask a family member or neighbor to watch us for a bit (family was on the east coast and we had no neighbors), it wasn’t easy to send us out to play on our own (black bears roamed through our back yard pretty regularly, not to mention the weather which was rainy or snowing about 10 months of the year) and she couldn’t even take us to the local library or a store for a change of scenery (no library and absolutely no stores—she actually had to order our groceries by boat—can you imagine?!) As I list these things, I realize I’m making the lack of so many things sound like a problem but it was quite the opposite. Living there and growing up there was absolutely ideal, it just took an extremely creative Mother to make it that way.

Smoked salmon, pine needles, cedar bark, sticky alder, and homemade bread are the smells of my childhood. Black bears, endless forest, snow-capped mountaintops, eagles, massive glaciers, enormous blue ice bergs carrying baby seals, and pods of Orca whales are the images I recall. Walking in beach grass taller than me, picking beach strawberries, salmon berries and wild blueberries, hearing the unmistakable sound of humpback whales’ exhalations, and witnessing the incredible sight and sound of a calving glacier are among my memories. Lucky:  that’s what I consider myself, very lucky and immensely grateful.
My “luck” continues to this day. I know I will never have to worry if my Mother is bored or lonely or somehow not thriving. She is enthusiastic and full of life like no other. She is an avid painter and potter successful in local galleries on the Olympic Peninsula (visit  to see what she is currently working on—yes, my 76 year old mother is also a tech-savvy blogger!) and her work is remarkable. I could go on and on… and another day, I probably will.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you so much. Thank you for everything.
Mom and me on a recent trip to the beach. No birdseed in the hair but plenty of sand.

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