I know that you won't be reading my website or Facebook, but I believe that the world should know how much I honor you.
I honor you, not only on this day, but every day. You are the strongest woman I have ever met. I honor you for the things that you had to overcome in your own youth. The things that you shared with me about your own childhood gave me the strength to overcome my own adversities.
I honor you for choosing to have me. I know that in the time and part of the country that you lived when you became pregnant that having a child when you were not married was not acceptable. You shared with me how people looked at you and comments they made because you were an unwed mother. You could have made the choice to abort me, or to give me up for adoption, but you choose to face the criticism and raise me proudly as your son.
I honor your determination to not only provide for me, but also to take care of your own mother. Your work ethic of juggling three different jobs to make sure that we always had a roof over our heads, food on the table and that we could live without the fears of not having "enough", showed me how to take responsibility for my own family as I grew older.
I honor your decision to not let anyone else know that the Doctor told you when I lost my leg to cancer at 8 years old that there was a 95% probability that the cancer would return within 5 years and kill me. Your decision to carry that secret alone and not even let your closest family members know kept me alive. I truly believe that you saved my life in carrying that burden by yourself. And I will never be able to repay you for that.
I honor you for standing by me as I went down my personal road of self-destruction with drugs and alcohol. I know that I put you through mental, emotional, spiritual, physical and financial hell. And no matter how bad things got, no matter how hard I tried to push you away, you were always there giving every ounce of yourself to make sure I was ok. You taught me that no matter how bad things get, there is always hope.
I honor you for the role you have played in my daughter's life. The relationship I have with her today would not have happened without you having made the decision for the first five years of her life to only work a job that would allow you to be available every other week so you could pick her up on Thursday, drive to New Jersey and stay with us at my small apartment, watching her while I worked and taking her home to Pennsylvania on Tuesday. You made that trip in all kinds of weather, driving cars that were not the safest or most reliable just to make sure that I would have the experience of being in my daughter's life. The relationship that Sierra and I have today is only possible because of your amazing heart and commitment to both her, and I.
I honor you for the patience you have had with me as I have rebuilt my life over the past 21 years. I know that the decisions I have made many times have made no sense to you. I know that you have had to defend my decisions and the directions that I have gone in to your brothers, sisters and their children because the life that I have chosen they simply cannot comprehend. And you have never once asked me to abandon my dreams or change my journey even when you couldn't understand why I was making the choices I made. I have no words to thank you for always believing in me and allowing me to ”Be” me, even when there was no evidence of why you should.
I honor your decision to continue working as a caregiver, taking care of other elderly people even when you were 80 years old yourself. You exemplified courage, strength, compassion and tenacity as you would venture out on those frigid winter mornings, driving yourself to another person's home because you knew they were counting on you to help them with their medicines, with their food and taking care of their needs for the day. You were always my example of selfless service.
I honor you for allowing me to take care of you the past three years. I know that hasn't been easy. I know it was hard to leave the home you lived in for 82 years. I know how hard it was to leave your family, your church and all of your friends that you have known since you were a child. I know how hard it was to let someone else take care of you when you have always taken care of someone else. I thank you for the trust in my decision to bring you here even when you knew that our living together was going to have its own challenges. The past three years have contributed to even more growth in my own life, in our relationship and even in my relationship with Sierra.
Mom, I would not be the person I am today without the example you have given me, without the influence that you had in everything you said and did. I am printing this out to give you on Mother's Day, but also publishing it on Facebook and on my website because there are so many people who tell me how much they look up to me and the example of how I live and they need to know that who I am now, was all because of you and your example.
Thank you will never be enough to express my gratitude for the role that you have played in my life, and what you have done.