Today you apologized again for needing me. “I’m sorry you have to do so much for me,” you said. “I know how busy you are.”
“I figure that if I keep doing things for you, Mom,” I answered, “in about fifty-nine years we might be close to being even.”
How many times did you have to stop what you were doing to rush me to the doctor? I know there were at least the two times I broke my arm, and there were several times you had to take me in to get stitches. And then there was the time I decided to sit and dig in the anthill, which led to your spending a month with me in the hospital wondering if I was going to survive.
Of course, those were just the physical injuries. How many times did I come to you with a broken heart? You always held me, soothed me, and kissed the pain away.
I haven’t always been good about letting you know how much I appreciate you. In fact, there have been too many times that I made you feel just the opposite.
Like when I was a teenager. I remember coming to you once and telling you how a girl I liked had rejected me. I wanted you to tell me that you felt sorry for me, but instead you said, “I didn’t want anything to do with your dad when I first met him.” You went on to tell how Dad never gave up. He didn’t push or try to force things – he just kept loving you anyway. Eventually you realized that what he was offering was exactly what you were looking for.
At the time, I was a teenager, and I was convinced that I knew everything and you knew nothing, so I rolled my eyes and thought, “This isn’t helping.”
“I know you want to be loved,” you said, “and I want you to understand that you are loved. I will always love you, no matter what.”
“That’s not the kind of love I need!” I shouted. “That’s just not enough.”
I know that I hurt you that day and that it was only one of many times I’ve caused you pain. But you’ve always stayed true to your word – you have always loved me.
I’ve grown up a lot since that day, but I don’t think I’ve ever told you how wrong I was. I’ll always need your love, and it will always be more than enough.
As for your not wanting to have anything to do with Dad when you first met him – what a wonderful beginning to one of the greatest loves stories of all time! You and Dad have been together for more than sixty years, and you still kiss every chance you get! And not just “old people kisses”! They are the kind of kisses that used to embarrass us when we were growing up.
I find hope in your story. Maybe someday I will find someone to love the way Dad loves you, and maybe she’ll be able to love me the way you love Dad. Even if I don’t, I’ll always have your example to guide me.
And I know that I will always have your love.
You not only taught me how to walk, but you taught me how to keep going even when times are tough and I’m not sure I’m going to be able to make it.
“Do you ever feel like giving up?” you asked after a discouraging visit with your doctor.
“Yes,” I answered, “but you never showed me how. You’ve taught me all that I’ve needed to get by in life, but you’ve never shown me how to give up.”
Having you around still is yet another miracle in my life. How many times have your doctors told you that you wouldn’t last much longer? I think the first time was when you were almost a teenager, and they told Grandma and Grandpa you wouldn’t live long enough to graduate from high school.
You just kept “putting one foot in front of the other.”
When I was twenty-one and living in California, Dad called and said you were sick. “The doctors don’t think she’s going to make it,” he said, his voice cracking. I could hear the fear in his voice, and I was certain we were losing you then, but somehow you managed to pull through.
And when you and Dad spent your sixtieth wedding anniversary separated because you were in intensive care wards in two different hospitals, I flew home convinced I was coming to tell you goodbye.
But you just kept putting one foot in front of the other.
So, there really is no reason to apologize for needing me. Being able to do things for you is a blessing, not a sacrifice.
Your Grateful and Loving Son,