The Appreciation She Deserves

By Kellyn Brown

I recently arrived at my parents’ Spokane home. Before grabbing my suitcase, Mom was already standing on her front porch waving at me. It’s the same scene every time I visit. And it never gets old.

Yes, this mother of three is still eager to see me after all those years of torture. As a toddler, I would jam my head under our chain link fence and run away. As an adolescent, I teetered between aloof and insane, resentful about everything, from her giving me a “girl’s” name to the curfew that was always an hour earlier than “everybody else!” And as a teenager, I was downright defiant, failing to understand why lighting a bonfire and partying under a freeway should bother her, the police, or anyone else.

Mom was persistent to the point of exhaustion. I wasn’t the only one wearing her out. My brother and sister helped with that. But she never gave up on us, even when a less patient woman may have. In fact, she still acts like I am the greatest thing that ever happened to her.

My mom, aptly named Brenda Sue, grew up in the small town of Freeport, Ill. It is a manufacturing area where they once made a lot of pretzels – so many that the high school’s mascot is a pretzel.

To me, picturing my mom as a teenager, her red hair, her country name, in a sweatshirt with “Pretzels” emblazoned across it says a lot about her. Like the town she grew up in, she is old fashioned in all the good ways.

For instance, family dinners are still an event. They’re noisy and involve a lot of absurd stories. There are competitions among her kids over who gets to talk the most. Mom mostly laughs the whole time, although she occasionally asks, “Are you kidding me?” and yells “baloney!” when she doesn’t believe you, which is at once hilarious and endearing.

Manners still matter to her. “Please” and “thank you” are required. While she’s exceptionally polite, she is unafraid to point out when someone else is not, even if that someone is hawking perfume at the department store.

She’s extremely loyal in that “blood is thicker than water” kind of way. Her family comes first and, if she feels someone has wronged any members of it, she goes ballistic, which is less intimidating because she is just 5 feet 2 inches tall.

Many of these characteristics I took for granted growing up. I often clashed with Mom’s personality and, more often, her rules. Life, somehow, was never fair for a kid who grew up with parents who loved him and supported him in just about everything. No, it had to be more complicated than that.

It took me several years to truly appreciate what Mom had provided, a solid foundation and example of how to treat people – all people. For years, Brenda Sue has worked with special education students in East Valley High School, patiently teaching them how to live independently once they graduate.

Now she was standing on her porch, smiling almost to the point of tears, as I carried my suitcase up her driveway. That’s what moms are for, I suppose. To remind you how great you are, or least how great they think you are.

I’m lucky. I got a good one. Yes, Mom’s a bit of a throwback, who loves playing board games, loathes television and still occasionally says, “tough tiddly winks,” which is charming. But the older I get, the more I realize how much she had figured out all along, especially in regard to what’s important.

My mom is a lot like many of yours. And each of them deserves to be appreciated on Mother’s Day, and every other day for that matter.