Window on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam

Karen S. Spangler

Managing Editor

(As Mother’s Day draws near, I would like to devote my Window on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam column to a message about mothers and how special they are. The reminder is always timely and ever important – treasure your mom while you still have her and let her know you love her and appreciate her, now – while you still can.)

I approach Mother’s Day each year with mixed feelings. I feel blessed to know the joys of being a mother and to have wonderful children. At the same time, I appreciate my own mother and the special love and bond that we shared. But it is also a poignant reminder of the loss of my mother, just four days before Mother’s Day in 1990. This year will be even more difficult as the anniversary of my mother’s passing falls exactly on Mother’s Day. It will be a time of celebration for all that we shared and for the bond I have with my own children but also a time when I will remember my loss.

The memories are still poignant and clear—as though it were only yesterday or last month instead of 25 years ago. On a spring day in Pennsylvania, the air was balmy, but still carried a bit of a chill. Trees whose branches had been bare through the winter months were now beginning to bud with the rebirth of spring. The sky was overcast—with intermittent patches of blue—and a light drizzle fell from the gray clouds above.

There in a small, rural cemetery, I stood quietly with my children and other members of our family— saying my last goodbyes to my mother. My tears flowed down my face as the minister delivered a brief eulogy. Sprays of roses covered the top of the coffin which sat beside the open grave dug into the muddy ground which was soon to be my mother’s final earthly resting place. It was all so unreal to me— that my beloved mother was gone from my life. Part of me refused to believe it, though another part of me knew that it was true—and I had no idea how I would ever deal with such a great loss.

On a day that other families were planning Mother’s Day celebrations with their mothers, I was burying my mom. While newspaper ads and radio and television announcements offered reminders to do something nice for moms on their special day, I cried through my pain.

As weeks and months passed, I envied those who still had their mothers. I longed to be able to send a sentimental card, drop by with an arrangement of flowers, or enjoy a nice dinner with mom at one of her favorite restaurants. I desperately wanted to be able to pick up the telephone and hear the sound of her voice—to share my latest triumphs and disappointments.

And my heart ached for my children who would never again see their grandmother or be able to share in baking cookies and all of the wonderful moments that grandmas and grandchildren enjoy. Most of all, I wanted to be able to wrap my arms around the wonderful lady who had not only been my mom, but my dearest friend, and squeeze her as tightly as I could. But she was gone—and I could never do that again.

As a child growing up in a poor family, I had very little—and yet, I had an abundance. There were many happy memories of past Christmases. Presents under the tree were scarce and most were hand-me-down clothes which mom had cleaned and pressed until they looked new. Then she lovingly wrapped them and placed them under the tree.

There were the countless times when she held me and rocked me when I was sick, read me bedtime stories, and told me funny stories about growing up with her siblings. To me, she seemed like an angel. She never got angry, never complained, always understood and supported us, and had the biggest, most generous heart of anyone I knew. She could also be funny and at times, mischievous. She always had a smile and a hug for us—and despite the difficult struggles, displayed a lot of courage. The sacrifices that she made for us were many—although I wasn’t aware of it at the time.

As with many mothers and daughters, there was a special bond between us—a closeness that could never be disputed or discounted and one which, despite the distances that frequently separated us after I grew up and had my own family, never lessened.

I treasure all of my memories— and even though many years have passed since my loss, I still miss her very much—but especially on Mother’s Day.

If you are still lucky enough to have your mom, I encourage you— no, I implore you—to appreciate her and show her how much you love her—while you can. Even if you are a distance away, as many of our Sailors are, please send your mom a card or a bouquet of flowers, something to show your love and appreciation. Or just pick up the phone and give your mom a call to let her know that you care.

Moms truly appreciate all of those little gestures—and just to know that you love them and are thinking of them is worth more than all of the riches in the world.

But you don’t have to wait until Mothers’ Day to make your mom feel special—mothers are special every single day of the year.

Happy Mothers’ Day—to moms everywhere!

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Category: NewsWindow on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam