Happy Mothers Day

An undated photograph of the author’s mother.

Odds are you never met my mother.

Since her passing when I was a teenager, time has slow-dripped my understanding of how a mother’s influence can last a lifetime — seeping into the most mundane or difficult decisions, how we view the world and those around us, and playing the role of an endless reservoir of strength when life deals us an unexpected blow.

Even in her passing, I could never have made this journey through life without her.

My mother never laughed at anyone as hard as she laughed at herself — her humility wouldn’t have it any other way. For her, laughter was the soundtrack of life. And to her, when she found herself the center of the humor, all the better.

Humility was her secret. Never was she better than anyone else, never was she mean to another, and never was she unable to laugh at herself.

One of her favorite stories was visiting an elementary school in the town where we’d recently moved. Dressed in her Sunday best, she walked the entire school, met with teachers and administrators, only to later discover she’d also worn a red plastic toy airplane propeller hanging from the seat of her yellow linen dress.

Or the time she attended her first professional football game and, looking up at the scoreboard, turned to my dad and suggested they get some of those “balloons for 29 cents” advertised to take home to my brother and me.

Long after, my Dad explained what she was reading indicated the football team had the “ball on the 29.” She always laughed the hardest when the story was retold, flashing her genuine and disarming smile.

Life was too short not to learn to laugh at yourself, she’d say.

But beyond the sparks emanating from her blue-green eyes, she preached compassion, understanding, and a perspective only a difficult life can teach someone.

Raised on another continent in another time, living and raising a family in the safe and comparatively comfortable environment of a modest American suburb never diluted the roots of her childhood.

While she was living the American Dream that she’d heard whispers of while a small child, she never forgot the lessons learned of being the rich you appreciate when you have nothing at all.

If asked, I’ll confess the good things in my heart are a result of a seed being planted by my mother. The rest, well, those are on me and me alone. I truly believe this.

Like I said, my Mom preached life was too short not to learn to laugh at yourself. Ultimately, she was right about the timeline God had for her — taking her as my brother and I crossed into double-digits. But the reality is, she never left us — and never will.

Because each day we face the world, we see it through a lens she created. And for us, that is the greatest gift anyone could ever give to us.

Happy Mothers Day, Mom.

Leonard Woolsey: 409-683-5207; leonard.woolsey@galvnews.com

(4) comments

Bailey Jones

I lost my mom in 1980, and my step mom just last January. All this last week a little voice has been reminding me, "don't forget to send her flowers". Happy Mother's Day to all!

Elaine McGough

Thanks for sharing a beautiful story about your mom. Mom’s do leave imprints of a lifetime on a child’s soul. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

Lois J Carelock

What a beautiful story about your Mom! She was beautiful.

Wayne Holt

I regret just now having found the time to read this piece four days after publication; I deprived myself of four days of renewed gratitude and inspiration about my own mother, through your sharing of the obvious love that she kindled in you, Leonard.

It takes the better part of a lifetime, for most people, to fully come to appreciate the influence our parents had on us, even if we lost them early in life. You have done a masterful job of expressing that realization with simplicity and devotion. Well done!

As an aside: that picture is a perfect example of why I so much prefer still photographs to videography. Could any other medium better capture the personality and verve you describe as your mother's character? In that one moment so long ago, everything she was, and is to you today, was captured in an image that is timeless. She IS beautiful...so beautiful.

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