It has been said that behind every good man there is a good woman. I do not know if I qualify as one of the aforementioned, but I do know that I have a good woman behind me, and that my life would be much different without her.
A longtime friend once told me that we were an unlikely pairing, and that without her I might be lucky to be alive. I did not agree with the later part of his statement, but the general idea was not lost on me, and I have often considered his words in the dozen or so years since they were spoken. Because I do know that without my wife, my life would be less than what it is.
There are two other women that have had a similar effect on my life – my mother and my late grandmother Gilliland. So, as Mother’s Day approaches on Sunday, I would like to use this space to wish all of them a most happy Mother’s Day.
They are all quite different in some ways, but they share many of the same qualities, too.
What I am trying to say is that they have always been there for me, and have asked little in return, other than that I consider their advice from time to time, and be a part of their lives.
My wife has been with me for 36 of my 57 years of this planet, and this year we will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary.
We were actually classmates, and had many of the same friends through our high school years. But (except for a piece of pencil graphite that is still stuck under her skin from one day when I was running through the school hallways and accidentally left my mark on her) we never really got to know each other until a few years later. When we started dating she had a 3-year-old son, and as I watched them interact, I could tell that if we ever had children together, they would be loved beyond measure. And I am absolutely positive my sons would tell you that is exactly how things turned out.
It’s not the easiest thing to admit, but if you ask anyone who knows us well, they would probably tell you that my wife is the rock of our family. They would be correct.
As far as love for their children goes, my mother is just like my wife. Above all else as I was growing up, and to this day, I have always had the comfort of knowing that I was loved beyond words by my mother.
It is not a secret that my mother is not in the best of health. But when she was, she would have done anything for my siblings and I. She did without much, so we could have more.
As her children grew older, and we wanted more, she went to work, so we could have those special things she knew we wanted. For a time she even worked with my father in the insulation business he ran in addition to his regular job to provide those same things for us.
After working mostly an entire Saturday, they would come home covered from head to toe in gray cellulose fiber insulation dust. After one particularly long day, they came home and wanted to take us for a quick dinner at the local McDonald’s. That was unusual, because unless we went to a nice restaurant somewhere, pretty much all our meals were made by my mother’s hands and were served around the kitchen table.
On this day though, they had worked hard and needed a break. They wanted to get supper done and then go home and finish cleaning up. But I was selfish and didn’t like that idea. I was at a time in life when I was becoming aware of societal things like girls and such, and I did not want to be seen with my parents looking the way they did. And I let my feelings be known. To make a longer story short, I was told that if I wanted to eat, I would be eating at McDonald’s. So off to McDonald’s we went.
When I was young and would say something cross about mother when she wasn’t around, my father would remind me to remember that she would give me the shirt off her back if I needed it. I knew he was right, but not to the extent that I do now.
Then there was my grandma Emma Mae. Most of Mother’s Days past have included a stop by her house to drop off a flower or some other small token. That won’t happen this year because she passed away last December. She was a woman of few words, but had a quiet strength. Usually, if I approached her with a problem, should was patiently listen, then say, “It’s OK Jeff, it will be alright.” And it always seemed to turn out that way.
The last 18 months or so of her life my grandma lived with my parents and was pretty much bedfast, especially in the later months. Except for a handful of days, my wife made the trip to my parents’ home every single day, sometimes more than once a day, to help take care of my grandmother.
They had some special kind of bond that I will probably never understand. But I know that I will never be able to thank my wife enough for all she did and sacrificed for my grandmother.
The same goes for my mother and both my grandmothers.
So, I will just wish them all the most happy Mother’s Days possible.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or firstname.lastname@example.org.