Sharing Memories Of Mom’s Love
Wednesday - May 07, 2008
My mother and father were married quite young and, hailing from the Philippines, came from a generation where arranged marriages were not unusual. They moved to the Mainland soon after and, soon after moving, they divorced.
Mom raised my sister and me pretty much by herself. Imagine the early 1960s, a single Asian woman living in the Midwest with two young children. Discrimination not only by race, but also via single parenthood was a daily reality.
But Mom did everything possible to provide for us. We were far from wealthy, but we had a comfortable home, never went hungry and attended a parochial school.
I always remember Mom working. An enduring image of her is, after a long day, falling asleep on the sofa. It must have been a tough life. Mom was working, taking care of two young kids, trying to provide for us while still having a life of her own. But there was never a time where I remember any complaints. There were never any “Oh, woe is me!” moments. Mom just kept going until there was a brief respite. Once the job was done, the dinner was made, the homework was finished and the kids were safe, it was finally time to rest and get ready to do it all again.
When I was 5 years old, a pair of scissors fell into my left eye.
My sister Stacey and I were cutting pictures from an old catalog on the floor in our living room on Thanksgiving morning. There were two of us and only one pair of scissors. On a hallway bookcase, I saw some haircutting shears and, despite being tall for my age, I could-n’t quite reach the shelf where the clippers lay. I grabbed a chair, reached as high as I could and just missed grabbing the handle. But I did nudge them just enough for the scissors to fall tip down right into my eye.
It was a moment where I remember looking from the outside in. I don’t remember the physical pain, but I have the perspective of me watching me jumping up and down. My mom rushed out of her room to see me standing in the hallway clutching my injured eye.
I was swept up and placed in the back of the car. Our local hospital was just minutes away and, although I was given initial treatment for the injury, there were no physicians on duty for the holiday. I was sent to another hospital about 30 miles away. Although I was stabilized, it was an arduous trip. Upon examination, the ER concluded there was only one eye specialist who could handle the damage and, coincidentally enough, he was in my hometown. He was contacted and consented to meet us back in the original hospital. Packing my sister and me in the car, we headed back.
When we arrived at the hospital, the eye specialist was waiting and I was wheeled into surgery. The scissors had punctured the eyeball and required stitches. Again, it’s the mid-1960s and the technology was antiquated compared to today. The doctor literally sewed the wound closed and prescribed the dressings to be changed numerous times a day along with prolonged bed rest. I was hospitalized for several days and, despite Mom’s brutal schedule, she was there virtually every second of the day. I am not sure how she was able to do it, but I never felt alone.
Once home, it was imperative that I did not sleep on my left side because the pressure on the stitches coupled with draining fluids would have permanently damaged my eye. It meant that Mom would have to grab some furtive rest while watching me sleep during the night. If I would shift, she would have to adjust my position. This went on for three months.
I am a parent with two young children and a beautiful wife. Despite our blessings, there are challenges aplenty. It was only when Zack and Zoe were born that I was able to understand what it must have been like for Mom. I see what we must endure to provide for our kids in stressful economic times. Mom did it on her own in a small town in Northwest Indiana four decades ago. Her sacrifices are legend. When I was in fifth grade, Mom was in her late 20s. There were no nights out on the town. There were no weekend getaways with the girls. It was about working, providing and taking care of her two young children. And she did a damn good job.
My eye miraculously healed and my vision was saved. If it were not for Mom’s quick action and resolve, I could have been blinded. The doctor who performed the surgery was magnificent, and to him I owe my sight. But, it was my mom who nurtured me back to health to where, through recent laser surgery, I can see 20/20 with an eye that could have been lost.
This is just one of countless stories of how my mom has enriched my life. This one was pretty dramatic. But moms make us better every day. A simple phone call lending a sympathetic ear, delivering sage advice when your child comes down with a 104 degree fever, or an unexpected card in the mail with messages of love and understanding can make a dark day brighter.
This Mother’s Day, I hope you will share some of your fondest memories with your mom. Take a few moments from the party or the brunch and have a quiet moment with your mother. Even if it’s to take her hand and simply say, “Thank you.” I guarantee it will be a greatest gift you can give.
Happy Mother’s Day and thank you, Mom.
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