Happy Valentine's Day.
Seventy-six years ago my mother was born, and if you know her, you understand why it is so fitting that my mother was born on a day that celebrates LOVE.
I think, rather I know, she has the biggest, most kind, most loving, most unconditional heart around. I have said in the past that I have Gandhi for a parent--most people would agree that that's not much of an exaggeration.
She has given birth to 11 children, raised us, helped to raise at least 10 of her 37 grandchildren, and on top of that, she took in and cared for both of her aging parents when they were too weak to do so themselves. AND, on top of that, she helped deliver thousands of healthy babies through the organization she founded 33 years ago. (www.womankindcleveland.com) I should mention that during the years when medicine was about the patient and not the insurance company, she even took and cared for battered pregnant women in our home.
If it sounds like I'm bragging,I am. She is a rare commodity in this world, and celebrating her on a blog is one small way to spread the good word on this good woman.
I met my mother (this is a love story, right?) 32 years ago. I was the last of 11 children, and they joke that I was named Maura because my Aunt came in and told her, "Alright Michele, NO MORA CHILDREN!"
There are so, so, so many stories of love that exist between my mother and I. Needless to say, it would be impossible to capture them all in a blog. From her undying support of my dreams from the time I was 8 and stepped on stage, to her commitment to be by my side through all my health hiccups and nightmares, to her unconditional acceptance of my sexuality despite the huge generational and religious gap...her love and dedication is an unyielding force that has helped me through some of the darkest, most unsettling times in my life.
As I find myself going through some rough patches these days, I think I have to take a moment and consider this woman in my life. She has raised me to have such high expectations of myself, to not settle for anything less than what I know is right in my heart, to give people the chance to grow, to love when it seems most difficult to love, and to forgive when it seems impossible to forgive.
She is my Saint, my Valentine of sorts, and I am so grateful that I know and can witness her human force in this world.
Happy Valentine's Day.
Happy Birthday, Mom.