As Mother’s Day approaches, I would like to take a few moments to pay tribute to our Mother.
Being part of a family owned business the lines between home life and work overlap. Mom was always a mom first but then she also worked at the shop along with Dad, My uncle Jim, two of my siblings Ed and Kathy, and myself. We learned so many life lessons living and working together for years, lessons I still use and cherish.
For me, first and foremost Mom and Dad were open and gracious parents. There were always friends and extended family coming and going at the house. We never knew if there would be our original 6 or an additional 1 to 3 extra family or friends joining us for dinner on any given evening. Mom always considered it a plus when extra people showed up. I think all the kids learned this lesson well, and I like to think that you can feel those well taught welcoming feelings when you walk into the shop or into our homes. Family was the center of her life and she loved unselfishly and openly. Hugs, smiles and a gentle rub on the back were a constant with her.
Mom and Dad loved the flower business and the friendships she and Dad developed with other shop owners from around the country. She and Dad were very active in both the local and National florist associations and loved going to conventions and industry functions. As much as she loved the flower business, her family and home were always the most important thing to her.
Mom was also unflappable. She took all the changes, surprises, unexpected guests and crises that 4 of her kids 10 or so neighborhood kids and a husband could throw at her and it never seemed to phase her. I remember when growing up on Lake Conway in Orlando during summer break, Ed and I having no money but a boat and gas being 25 cents a gallon, it was cheap fun. We would entertain ourselves and our neighborhood buddies by catching and releasing alligators by hand at night. We would only tackle the small ones 1 to 3 foot in length (mostly). One night we had caught 26 alligators and decided to surprise mom by putting 3 of them in her bathtub. We waited expectantly the next morning for mom to take her morning shower and anticipated some fireworks. She went into the bathroom came back out and calmly said get those thing out of there or I will be late for work. No screams, no hysterics, no nothing. She never got upset when one of the snakes Ed was keeping for Reptile Study merit badge in Scouting got loose and made a home in the laundry room. It seemed to us that no matter how much turmoil was going on at our house she steadfastly navigated herself and her family towards some type of normalcy.
Her greatest gift to us was the many ways that she expressed and gave us love. Mom had a great sense for what you needed and then gave it to you with no pretense or grandstanding. Her default towards any of us was to love us, even when she didn’t love what we were doing or saying. Her warm smile and gentle nature was a foundation that never wavered and it kept all of us grounded into the family. It is the main reason that decades after mom and dad retired. We are still working with each together, still functioning as a family together, even when we are arguing, we are still loving each other as brothers and sisters. Mom never complained about her life and she always had a grateful attitude.
In 1998, after heart valve replacement surgery, a blood clot broke loose and went to her brain giving her a massive stroke. She lost the use of the left side of her body as well as many other normal functions. Mom spent months in rehab learning to walk, eat and do the many things that we take for granted each day. Her positive attitude and unending smiles made her a favorite at the hospital. She never lost her faith nor her ability to love. I remember one time she was in ICU and the attending nurse was trying to adjust her breathing mask. Mom looked up at her, smiled, and gave the nurse one of her famous gentle rubs on the back. Even then she never lost sight of the simple and profound ways of expressing love and support.
Mom passed away in May of 2017 at the age of 92. If ever there was someone who passed on the goodness of mankind and made her corner of the world a better place it was mom.
And so as we approach yet another Mothers Day please take time out of your life to look back and appreciate the things that the mothers of this world have given to us. My wish would be that we would all share and emulate the love that was given to us by mom.