I woke up early once during my grade school years to find my mother, standing at our bathroom sink prepping herself for the day. It must have been 4:30 or maybe 5 in the morning but for me, it felt like 2:00 am. I looked up at her and said, “How do you do it? It’s so early!”
“It’s not that bad, Les” she smiled. We might have had a conversation after that, but all I remember is heading back up our creaky wooden stairs into my comfy purple bed, thankful to catch a few more hours of blissful sleep.
Mom and Dad worked, every day. Early hours, late evenings, weekends, and holidays – they worked; my mom as a registered nurse, my dad a farmer and carpenter. If mom was off from her nursing job, she was helping dad on the farm.
That was just life.
What I remember most in my 32 years of life isn’t how much they worked, but how hard they worked – with no complaint. I recognize now as a working mother of two just how hard it is to juggle it all, and I know I complain. You know I complain, too.
But they didn’t. Truly, they didn’t. Somewhere between their long working hours they also found time to make all the school, 4-H and sporting events. I know I’m bias, but I can’t think of two people who are more deserving of recognition and a well-deserved break.
Mom retired last week. After years of work, she finally gets that break. As usual, she went out quietly. “Are you going to have a party, Mom?” I asked.
To which she responded, “They better not do anything.”
Clearly, we aren’t similar with that characteristic.
Her co-workers did throw her a small, surprise gathering. Her closest friends and family helped toast her last day of work with a piece of cake and a cup of coffee. It was a kind gesture to celebrate so many years of hard work. But I won’t let her go out so quietly. She needs to know how much all of her daughters appreciate her work ethic. And since I’d bawl if I say that in person, I decided to write it down for all your fine folks to read as well.
Thank you for showing me how important it is to work hard. You did that, every day. You must be one of the best nurses around; I’m sure your patients thought so too. But even though you were a fantastic nurse and administrator, I’m fairly certain your creative side takes the cake; literally. I wasn’t old enough to remember you as a cake baker/decorator, but I heard you were fabulous. I’ve seen your creative side, I like to think I have a little of that in me, too.
I know you went back to school when I was just a baby so you could help support the farm. You did what needed to be done, without complaint. You made every single school activity and even found time to be a room mom during those early years. I know and my sisters know you did this for us. I didn’t recognize it when I was a kid, but I do now. Thank you for working so hard to keep all of our dreams a float. You are the strongest, smartest, most diligent woman I know. You showed me we can have it all.
You made it look easy, even though it had to be tough. After all these years, I still don’t know how you did it.
Happy Retirement! I’ll send my girls your way so you can stay busy.
Read more from Leslie in the Kearney Hub
Seriously cute card from Papeleria.