...And I thank you, mom

Published May 9, 2024

By Cash Michaels

In case you’re keeping count, this is the second apolitical commentary I’ve written in as many weeks.

No, I’m not going soft, and I’m not afraid to say that Trump’s crazy behind belonged in jail nine contempt charges ago. Being unpretending remains a very critical feature of my repertoire.

But after enthusiastically paying tribute to nurses last week, and all that they’ve done for me in my life, I realized that May 12th this year is Mother’s Day, and in our culture, there is no more special day than that.

Or at least there shouldn’t be.

And that’s because there’s no more special human being than Mom on the face of this or any other planet. Given the tremendous sacrifices mothers have historically made, I personally believe we don’t give them enough praise, enough thank you, enough respect for all that they’ve done, and continue to do.

Mothers are our very first teachers, our very first nurturers, our very first… everything. Their tremendous love and decency shape us during those early years, help us decide who we are, and more importantly, who we want to be later on in life.

I still marvel how my wife shepherded our youngest daughter through her college entry process several years ago, yet allowed her the freedom to choose what university she ultimately wanted to attend. Because of that hard work and dedication from my wife, our youngest was able to choose Yale, the school she’ll proudly be graduating from a year from now.

Now of course my wife and I put a lot of hard work into our youngest throughout the years, but when it came to navigating our baby girl successfully to the university of her choice, my wife was the one who knew how to successfully stick the landing.

It takes a mother’s special touch. 

An important lesson I’m sure my two daughters will learn when they have families.

Even the most despicable person in the world (no names please) has the greatest love and respect for their mother. Usually if they’ve gone wrong, it’s not Mom’s fault, it’s their’s. They just don’t like admitting it.

You’ll never hear that evil person blame their mother.

Hell, they’ll blame Dad all day, every day, before they blame Mom for anything, and rightly so.

I mean think about it…before you or I ever saw an inch of daylight, our mothers were comforting us inside, rubbing and soothing us before we were born, assuring us that by the time we made our grand entrance into this cruel, cruel world, she would be right there holding us, and protecting us.

Now let’s get one straight….Dad is normally the parent who is given the titles of protector and provider when it comes to his family. But be real, there is no one human being who would take a bullet for you, or shield you from any and all harm, like your Mom.

In fact, there were times, I’m sure, when she stood toe-to-toe with Dad if she felt that he was carrying the discipline bit a little too far. THAT’S how much that sacred lady loved you!

For those of us who have lost our mothers, and a lot of folks in my generation have been experiencing that sad event over the past ten-to-fifteen years, Mother’s Day is a solemn day of remembrance.

We remember a woman of unbridled and boundless love, energy and wisdom, whose counsel and caring we sorely miss, even into our older ages. Indeed, it is when we reach those later years that we miss our mothers the most. Because it is then that we finally understand many of the lessons Mom taught us.

It is then, upon remembering, that we smile, shake our heads, and realize not only what it was that Mom was trying to tell us, but why she shared her custom-made wisdom with us.

To live long enough to come to that special understanding is a blessing, indeed!

I remember one of the special fears I’ve always had about living is that I would lose my life before my mother lost hers. It is quite natural for a child to grow old, and along the way, lose his mother after she’s done her job, done all she could for him. But it is quite unnatural for any mother to experience that unique and unspeakable pain of losing a child she brought into this world before her time has come.

I never wish that for any mother.

For those who never knew their mother…I’m sorry. I hope there was someone in your life who came close to what you never naturally knew or experienced. And I hope you celebrate them not only on this Mother’s Day, but every chance you get.

I can’t speak for others (though at times I try to get away with doing exactly that), but I lost my mother in January 2009. I was already married with two beautiful daughters by that time. I remember spending those last moments we had together as mother and son. She was asleep, so I was at her bedside, lovingly stroking her hair, putting her blanket over her to make sure that she was warm, and softly talking to her, hoping that she could hear me.

Those were powerful, meaningful moments.

This was in hospice, so the end was expected. In previous weeks, my Mom was in the hospital, not allowing anyone to feed her unless I came and gently did it. In months prior, I had been taking care of my mother at my home in Cary, where she had her own room, but was generally confined to bed.

I don’t mind sharing that my mother suffered from dementia towards the very end, so there were times when I had to care for her with the utmost patience, not knowing from one day until the next what to expect from her condition.

Through it all per those last difficult months, she always seemed to know who I was, if not exactly, and always trusted me to take care of, protect and love her. We had, for all intent and purposes, switched places, with me being her caretaker, and my mother at times, reverting to being childlike.

For me, it was emotionally draining, especially being an only child who couldn’t count on anyone else to properly take care of her. Mom was an exceptionally strong personality, even in illness, and it took not just a trained professional, but someone who knew her as well as anyone could, to be able to communicate with her. 

The one blessing I will always be grateful for is that in her later years, even in her condition, Mom developed a close relationship with my youngest daughter.

That natural maternal instinct immediately took over, and Mom made her young granddaughter always feel as if she was the only person in the world that mattered. That’s something I will never forget, and am eternally grateful for.

So those last couple of months taking care of Mom were very special, but very challenging. Yet, the memories of when I was a little boy growing up in Brooklyn, NY, with my mother against the world, are seared into my DNA. 

I’m eternally thankful and grateful that in all the universe, Almighty GOD chose that extraordinary woman to be my mother.

I hope and pray that you feel the same way about yours.

I know you do.

Whatever good I have done in life, I can honestly trace back to the lessons taught to me by that very special lady….

….and I thank you, Mom!

Happy Mother’s Day, everybody!