Taking Up the Slack

As Mother’s Day approaches, I would be amiss to not say, “Hey, my mom’s birthday comes first!” I feel like she always gets ripped off, because they’re both usually on the same weekend.

I’ll be out of town on her birthday this year, and will have to celebrate another day. Ripped. When we were younger we thought we were getting off easily because we killed two birds with one stone. Ripped. Thankfully, we grew up, and we now treat them as two different occasions.

My mom is incredible. She has worked hard and provided for her family for many years. We never went without the things we needed. She was widowed at age 37, and never remarried. She worked two and sometimes three jobs to make sure we were cared for. We didn’t have a lot of material things, but we were more content than most.

Joy, happiness, and fulfillment are found in the invisible things of life: love, hope, peace, and relationships. And they are not on sale at your local department store. Stop looking for them there. People who live their lives in pursuit of material things are never content They always want newer, faster, or bigger because they will never be satisfied with material possessions.

Back to my mom. She taught us many things. Like, how to make a bowl for popcorn out of newspaper, (I still haven’t figured it out. It’s like some kind of origami trick). She taught my sister to make really awesome cornbread. I haven’t mastered that one either. She taught us to work and to work hard, and it will pay off. She taught us what kind of girls end up as unwed mothers. [Save your politics, this was the 70’s and 80’s] She taught us that lying is not good, especially if you lie to her, then YOU get ripped. She taught us to be loyal friends, to love each other, and to love The Lord with all our hearts. She taught us to laugh and laugh often, and much, and loudly.

There was one Mother’s Day/Birthday weekend 37 years ago, mom really got ripped. May 9, 1980 my older sister, Denise was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident. She died on a Friday, and we had to wait the entire weekend and bury her on Monday, my mom’s birthday, the day after Mother’s Day. I have an excerpt from a Facebook post Denise’s best friend, Sherleen Rew, shared in 2013.

May 9, 2013: A Tribute to My Friend With a Beautiful Heart:

“This week my mind is flooded with memories of a special friend whose life was cut short by a very tragic motorcycle accident. Thirty three years ago I received a phone call that shattered my world. My best friend, Denise Davidson, was gone.  I sat down last night and put a few of my thoughts together about our friendship.

I can’t really remember when I first met Denise. Her Granny lived one street behind ours. When we were young kids, I met her through the fence, and I’m sure we stuck our tongues out at each other a few times. Her Granny made her stay in their fence, and I played freely  throughout the neighborhood. Our close friendship developed in high school during our junior year. We ended up working in the office together and enrolled in the night classes at a local community college. We started hanging out on weekends, attending ballgames, concerts, going on double-dates…We shared secrets and thoughts, but not clothes because I was not blessed to have the tiny waist she did. We did share the same taste in just about everything else.We once bought the exact same greeting card for each other, and another time we both showed up at a New Year’s Eve party wearing the same outfit in different colors. I remember us laughing, but we avoided standing next to each other for the rest of the night.

Our 1977 graduation year came way too soon, but at the same time not soon enough. We headed out to Panama City Beach with about half the graduating class for a week of crazy fun. Life was good, and we were young. In the fall, we both enrolled Snead State where our friendship continued to grow. After Snead, she headed to Jacksonville State, and I moved to Opelika. We kept in touch through letters, phone calls, and occasional visits. We also tried to make it back to Guntersville on the same weekends. I called her when I arrived at my parents’ house that fateful weekend.

She wanted me to come ride motorcycles at her house, but I had already planned a shopping trip to Huntsville. We decided to meet up at 10 am the next morning at her house. We said “bye” and I headed out the door to Huntsville, not knowing that would be the last time I would hear her voice. My mom was answering the phone when I walked in the door from shopping. She handed me the phone and I listened as another friend gave me the devastating news. I have no memory of what happened next, but I woke up on the floor with my Momma holding me. I could not stop the sobs as I tried to tell Mom what had happened.

Heaven gained one “AWESOME ANGEL” that evening, and I lost a very dear friend.

I struggled for years to understand how someone so happy, vibrant, young, and full of life could be taken so quickly. I still miss her and think of her often. I pulled out my Senior Yearbook last night, and read what she had written. I cried and laughed at the long ago memories. Here are a few excerpts from the TWO pages she wrote:

‘Sherleen, Well, as you know, you are the greatest friend I have ever had. I guess everybody else knows also, that’s why they call us sisters. We have had some really good times together. They all started when we worked in the office together and started going to Snead. I will never forget the parties, dates, the Sweetheart Contest, the Warm Concert, our dates with ________and ________ to Snead’s Homecoming, and the night I fell in the lake. Those were a few of the fun times. The crazy stuff is what made this year (1976-77) so good. Remember all the good times we had, but most of all, think of all the times we’re gonna have.

God Bless you.

Friends Always,

I love ya,

Denise’

Yes, Friends Always. Love ya too, Sherleen”

My mom isn’t the only mom to lose a husband and a child in the span of three years, but she’s the only mom I have, and I think she’s a Wonder Woman.  She handled both great losses with great grace and elegance. She’ll be 80 years old tomorrow, and I will celebrate her birthday and Mother’s Day as two different occasions. She has been mom AND dad for many years to our family. She took up the slack, and never missed a beat. (I was 11 and 14, what do I know)? Happy Birthday, Mom! And Happy Mother’s Day! I love you!

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kendrasmith

Wife of Tony. Mom of Anna and Noah. Nonommy of Walker. I’m a school secretary, but my real job is leading worship at Point of Grace Church.

2 thoughts on “Taking Up the Slack”

  1. I am in tears. Your Mom is an awesome woman and I have always admired her great strength.

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