For Susan

By Leslie Foster

I was blessed with a really fantastic mother.  She died of ovarian cancer when I was 24, and sometimes I comfort myself by thinking that it’s because she was like the “ultra condensed” version of a mom.  You know, like each person’s only allowed to have a certain amount of mom-awesomeness, and my siblings and I met our limit early because Mom’s awesomeness was so powerful.  This may not be strictly true, but it FEELS true in my heart.  She was not only a great mom (and I would have told you that then, too; this is not just a hindsight observation) but she was also my best friend.

We did normal mom/daughter stuff together.  I mocked her mercilessly for never managing to master the use of the remote control.  She told me my bathroom was dirty when she’d come to visit.  We conspired together and then ganged up on my little brother to force him to FINALLY bring his girlfriend home for dinner.  She was the designated go-between for us kids and my dad.  But she was also a friend.  A really great friend.  We would go shopping together.  Not clothes or shoe shopping:  grocery shopping.  We would meet up for lunch on our lunch hours.  Once we drove to Kentucky for a camping weekend with one of my friends.  My friends loved my mom.  I found out years later that when I left home for my first semester of college, two of my friends from church baked cookies and took them and visited Mom, even though I was in a different state.

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Mom was awesome like that.  I always loved bringing friends home, because I knew Mom and Dad would roll out the (country version of the) red carpet.  Big, home-cooked meals, sleeping bags and air mattresses all over the floors; people could tell they were welcome and loved there.  Once after an ill-fated spring walk through a deceptively muddy field, Mom spent several hours hand-scrubbing about 8 pairs of college girls’ tennis shoes.  We didn’t ask.  She was just awesome like that.

One thing I really appreciated about my mom is that she always told me the truth.  Not the truth softened by love.  Not the truth biased by her perspective.  But the pain old, this-might-hurt truth.  That was not always fun.  But it made me feel safe because I knew that when she told me something good about myself, it was equally unbiased truth.

She wasn’t perfect.  It’s taken me about 8 years of living without her to be able to admit that again, but it’s true.  There were even a few people who really didn’t like her.  I still think those people are dumb, and I probably always will.  But it reinforced an important truth Mom told me during my sophomore year in high school.  She said that no matter what, there will always be a few people who don’t like me, and THAT’S OK.  It was a shocking revelation to me.  And a more valuable lesson I may never learn.

So in summary, why do I love my mom?  I love her for introducing me to the Lord and modeling what it meant to walk through life and into death with Him.  I love her for being fun and funny and smart and talented.  I love her because she loved me no matter what, and because she liked me.  She thought I was valuable and important and gifted.  I knew I could disappoint her, but I also knew I couldn’t make her stop loving me.  And isn’t that what we’re all looking for?  Unconditional love.  I am thankful for the unconditional love I got from my mom.

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