Two days ago, on Mother’s day, I spent a bit of time thinking about the Mothers in my life and how they’ve affected me. I’m not sure if it was because it way A2’s first Mother’s day or if it was because Mother’s day church meetings always involve multiple people getting up and crying about how awesome their mothers were. Either way, the day led me to reflect on the women I’ve known best who are mothers.
My grandmother Anderson and Ricks were epic women. They’ve been gone for several years now, and time has been very kind to their memory. The stories only get better as time goes on, and their memory becomes more and more rich. Both were incredible women.
My Grandmother Anderson was a kind, intelligent woman from a great, well-respected family. (If there’s one legacy we Anderson men have, it’s the ability to marry way above ourselves.) Gram, as we all called her, had 12 children (9 survived infancy) and a few foster children as well. She spent most of her life cooking, washing, and outfitting the army that worked on the farm and ranch. She made the most epic sourdough pancakes. In fact, most of my memories of Gram are of her cooking. Two specific instances; one time when I was very young at the Cougar Ranch, I “helped” her pull and roll scone dough, and another time at her house in Washington, where she made sourdough pancakes for us. Even in Gram’s later years, after suffering several strokes and losing the ability to communicate, I still remember visiting her and knowing that she knew who we were and she wanted to tell us she loved us, even though she couldn’t say it. Gram spent her life in selfless service to her family and those she loved. Her legacy and posterity was truly great.
My Grandma Ricks was a wonderful woman who, we all swear, never spoke an ill word of anyone in her entire life. In fact, in a family like the Ricks where teasing and ribbing can oftentimes get a little out of hand, she would always be the one to reign in the troops. Grandma Ricks made time for every grandchild, and had a special way of making each feel like they were the most special. I remember going to the local Albertsons with her once when we were visiting. After we loaded the groceries into the trunk of her car, she accidentally shut the heavy lid down on my hand. She felt so bad, got me home quickly and took a blue gel ice pack out of the freezer and monitored my hand until it felt better. I also have distinct memories of accidentally walking in on Grandma when she was both praying at her bedside and reading her scriptures. She was a woman of great faith and she lived every Christian attribute to the fullest.
My own mother is an exemplary woman. I think my brother Ben put it best when he said, “If they don’t throw open the pearly gates for her, I dont’ know who is getting in.” Not only is she a woman of great faith, she is a woman who finds a way. She has endured and overcome so many challenges, not the least of which was raising 4 boys and 1 daughter. But that is just how she is. She can turn any weed patch into a garden, can grow fruit trees and grapevines in sand, and can make any old house a home. And not just with physical things; she can do it with people too. She cares about everything and everyone. In fact, if my mother had a fault it might be that she cares too much and too deeply about everyone and everything, but it clearly comes from her strong belief that improvement can be constant and that she can make it happen through faith, personal effort, and love. I love you, Mom. You are a great woman!
Finally, I’ll say something about my awesome wife. This was her first Mother’s day as an official “I’ve pushed a baby out” mother. Though WEJr honored his mother the same as he does every day (by eating and sleeping and pooping), the day did take on a slightly different tone for me as it shifted from honoring my wife’s womanhood to honoring her huge sacrifice to be a mother. And by sacrifice – I mean letting your body and mind go to pot in order to bring a new life into this world. (I’ve recently realized that mothers go crazy because they spend so much time talking gibberish to children who don’t really respond back.)
When I think about my wife, I think about an experience we had in postpartum at the hospital that completely changed the way I look at her. As WEJr’s nurse was going through his discharge papers, A2 began to see spots and feel dizzy. We called her nurse in and quickly signed off on WEJr’s release. Then the nurse looked at me and said, “OK. He can’t come back to the nursery now. You can call us and we can bring you anything you need, but he can’t come back anymore.” With that, she took her little cart and ran. At the same time, A2’s nurse was in the room taking her blood pressure, checking her spine, turning off all the lights, laying her down and instructing her to get some rest to see if the headache passed.
There I sat, in a dark room in the middle of the afternoon, watching my wife sleep off a massive headache, holding a baby that I could not pass off to anyone else. I was slightly panicked. What if he was hungry? What if he started crying? What if he got sick? There was so very little I felt like I could do for him. The emotions were quite overwhelming, so I sat in the dark, fighting back tears, and offering silent prayers that my wife’s headache would quickly pass and that we could still be discharged that day.
In that moment, I realized how dependent on her I was. Not just for feeding and caring for WEJr as his mother; but also for companionship, friendship, and everything else that is great about my life. It is strange to realize that two and a half years ago I didn’t even know this woman who has come and completely redefined my life, gave birth to my child, and become my best friend. I love spending every minute I can with her. I can’t get enough of her. As the months and years pass, my addiction to her seems to only deepen, as does my love.
Thank you to all the women who have been my mothers. You are amazing.