The notion of “family” has been in my mind quite a bit lately.
While reading the recent three-part story by Point reporter Maria Counts on the rampant rise of heroin-use in our cozy community by the shore, I was ripped apart inside when digesting the stories of families being torn apart by addiction. Since this series started to run, we have spoken with several people in the area who have been personally affected by heroin use, and they all become emotional when discussing their children, or spouses, and what has happened to their families as a result.
And, I promise you: we’re talking about the proverbial “good families” here. This is not something any of us can just mentally sweep away as somebody else’s problem. It knows no boundaries. Addiction does not discriminate based on race or economic status or gender or religion. If it gets its hooks into you, well, you’re addicted.
And that will no doubt affect everyone around you, particularly your family.
It was family on my mind once again last Thursday as I was sitting in South Bethany Town Hall for a National Day of Prayer ceremony. The speakers who shared their stories and offered prayers touched my heart one by one. They all spoke of their love of God, and what that means to them on an individual basis, but they all also touched on their families. The theme of the day was God and family, to be sure, and it was hard not to walk out of the room with a general feeling of peace.
And that led me to thinking of my own family, once again. I thought back to my father getting us ready on Sunday mornings for church, and the endless string of inane questions about religion he would be peppered with on the ride home.
He was pretty patient with them for the most part, but I would typically toss out one that would make him scratch his head for a minute before he would come up with a thoughtful response that may or may not have been true — but it did the job as far as placating his overly-inquisitive son who felt the need to question everything he was ever told.
Yeah, no surprise I eventually became a reporter, right?
Regardless, I always appreciated my father’s ability to be savvy with me as far as my questions went, even if he didn’t always answer them completely. On the other end of that spectrum was my mother, who would always provide an honest and direct answer, whether I liked it or not.
“Do you like this shirt, Mom?”
“You look like a ragamuffin. Go change it before the neighbors think I’m a rotten mother.”
Now, before you take this as me taking a shot at my mother, think again. The joy of my mother is that there is no gray area. You know where you stand every moment of every day, and there is no better hug a person can receive than from my mom.
I say that as someone who valued them at 4. And I say that as someone who valued them two weeks ago when I visited her.
She is all heart. Passionate about the Roman and ancient Greek history she has studied for decades, passionate about her favorite teams in sports and passionate for her family. When I would get in trouble as a kid, it was not the authorities or teachers or coaches I feared, it was Mom. And when I felt like I was treated unfairly by someone, guess who it was I turned to when I needed a hand. And guess who it was who would immediately fly into action and take up my cause.
That’s right. My mommy.
As another Mother’s Day approaches, and the advertisements for brunches and flowers and chocolate-covered strawberries fill our minds with ideas, just take a second for yourself and consider what makes your mother so uniquely special to you. For me, it’s the fact that, as often as I drove my mother absolutely crazy (and, oh, I did!), there was never a moment I doubted her love for me for even a moment.
That’s unconditional love, personified. And it’s what makes my mother so special and important to me to this day.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you unconditionally, and need you just as much today.