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Sunday, 02 May 2010 11:34

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I'm not usually a fan of music on websites, but this Taylor Swift song, "The Best Day", illustrates how my mom has always made me feel.  I just had to include it!  You can hit the pause button or turn down your speakers, but I'd be ever so grateful if you listened to it at least once...

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Pretty Girl at 7 Years...
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And Absolutely Gorgeous Now!

In honor of my mother's birthday on May 8th and of Mother's Day on May 9th this year, I wanted to share a tiny bit of my mom's story.  I want her to know how much she has affected my life and how much I adore and appreciate her.  I also want all of you (what, all 15 of you?) to know how wonderful she is, too! Smile

My mother, Linda Sue Mack (Lidgard), is simply amazing.  I know all parents give up all kinds of things and experiences for their children, but you will soon understand why my mother has gone above and beyond and you will understand why I hold her in the highest regard.  Be forewarned, I may have some of the early details wrong; I have tried not to take liberty with these details but only have shared what I remember being told. Also, I do not tell this story for anyone involved to feel badly, but to celebrate the absolute devotion my adoptive, and truly, my only, mother has shown to me.

My biological parents separated when I was quite young; I think I was about 18 months.  I don't know what kinds of things made my biological mother, Pam, leave.  I know she left with a man who, in addition to being a friend of my father's, was married and had a young daughter who was just a few months older than I was.  These two people each left their baby daughters behind.  I was left with my father, Paul, and the other child was left with her mother.  I don't know if Pam wanted to take me and couldn't or wasn't allowed to. Part of me wants to know and part of me knows it probably doesn't really matter almost 37 years later. 

This was before daycare existed and my father had a full time job at Caterpillar, so my paternal grandparents, Paul Sr and Thelma, moved in with my dad to take care of both of us.  My Grandma Mack took over the running of the household, including the finances. Pam saw me off and on for a few years, but she rarely kept to the court-ordered visitation schedule.  She and the man for whom she had left my father married and started a new family, having a daughter of their own and a son as well.  I think I saw her for the last time when I was around 5 years of age.  I talked to her once on the phone just before my 18th birthday and it was truly like talking to a stranger.  While I cannot imagine or understand ever leaving a child of mine, I don't hold anything against her.  I don't know both sides of this sad story and besides, I had a mother who adopted me at about 7 years of age, and who along with my family loved me dearly.  That was really all I needed.  Isn't that all any child needs?

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At 11, bottom right, with her Parents & Siblings
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Maid of Honor for her BFF, Penny, at 18

When I was two and a half, my 30 year old father remarried.  His new wife, Linda, was very, very young; only 18.  She was shy and demure.  Straight from her parents' home into my father's household, which included an instant toddler and both of her in-laws.  I cannot imagine how difficult this must have been.  I loved my grandmother, but in retrospect, she treated Linda much as an indentured servant.  Mental illnesses of varying sorts seem to run on my father's side of the family and I believe that my grandmother was affected.  She bossed Linda around, refused to buy her basic clothing, even when her clothes had holes in them.  My Grandma Lidgard was the one who provided my mom with basics when the old ones wore out.  My grandmother ruled her son's household.  My father really doesn't like conflict, he worked a ton and he also adored his mother.  My Grandpa Mack, being around all of the time, understood more of what was going on, but he was exceedingly ill.  I do remember him comforting Mom more than once.  He was very kind. I could go on and on, but I think everyone can figure out some of what went on and how difficult this marriage must have been for a young woman who was barely more than a child herself.  Linda's parents, Wayne and Lila, begged her to come back home.  It's important for you to understand I never knew about any of this as a child.  My mom, Linda, never complained to me or anyone else in earshot of us kids about her mother-in-law.  I rarely saw any of the four adults in my family household argue.  From my perspective, we lived a lovely, stress-free life.

She was and is a wonderful mother.  She is the best listener!  When I was little, she was a bit impatient in some ways (ask me about the barbeque sauce incident sometime, LOL!), due to her young age, but she otherwise patiently styled my long hair, listened to my stories, encouraged me to read (there were endless trips to the library in the summer), put up with my hiding saltines under my bed, encouraged me to cook without worrying about the mess and, once I had earned her trust, let me make most of my own decisions with only a occasional suggestion if it was a serious subject.  She disciplined me as well.  She never tried to be my friend, even though it would have been easy to since we were so close in age.  That was perfect.  I had lots of friends; I didn't need another friend.  I needed her to be my mother, which she was regardless of the circumstance.  Even so, to quote the song playing, she was always on my side, even when I was wrong.

Years later, well after both my paternal grandparents had passed and when I was in my late teens, my grandmother's suspected mental illness came up.  Mom and I were discussing another family member who appeared to be having some of the same issues that my grandmother and other family members had displayed.  She told me some of the things that she had gone through during her first 6-8 years of marriage prior to the passing of my grandparents.  We both cried; it was so difficult to hear that my grandmother, whom I loved so much, had done such horrible things to her young daughter-in-law.  A young woman who was too shy and lacked the confidence to stand up for herself.  I asked my mom why she just didn't leave Daddy's house and go back to Grandma and Grandpa Lidgard. After all, she didn't get pregnant with my younger sister until more than four years into the marriage. Do you know what she told me? 

She said, "Well, I couldn't leave you.  I loved you too much to leave." 

That was a defining moment in my life.  To think that this young woman, at 18 to 22 years of age, would endure what she had at the hands of her mother-in-law in order to stay with a child who wasn't her biological child...well, I cannot even begin to describe the shock I felt.  And the appreciation.  The complete, unconditional love she illustrated to me with these two sentences, well, it still makes me cry.  I really believe I would be a different person had I not had her as a mother in my life.  My Grandma Mack, in spite of her poor treatment of my mom, was a huge, positive influence in my life.  However, she passed away when I was only 8 years old.  If Mom had left in those first difficult years, I would have been without a mother entirely.

My young mother, after having had no 'normal' life as a young adult and having had children for 23 of her then 41 years, raised and ultimately adopted my youngest sister's son.  Alek is now 14.  Mom has given and given to everyone else for more than 36 years at the expense of her shy self.  However, in the last few years, my mother has started standing up for herself.  Her increase in confidence is amazing.  She is a hot blond mama!  She bikes and exercises and even goes whitewater rafting when she's out here visiting!  She is no longer anyone's doormat and I have never been more proud of her.  She is beautiful and she is strong and in many ways, is just starting to live her life.  I am so thankful for this and so excited for her! 

I love you, Momma.  These four words seem so inadequate compared to my feelings for you.

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Grandpa & Grandma Lidgard's 40th Anniversary; Mom is second from the right
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Dad & Mom
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Alek & Mom
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Mom & her Mom, my Grandma Lidgard, on Grandma's 80th Birthday!
Last Updated on Sunday, 09 May 2010 09:22