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Photo: Valeriy Goncharuk
Photo: Valeriy Goncharuk

Opinion: A mom’s memories for Mother’s Day

Dear Lyle, Kim, Billy and Steve

As Mother’s Day approaches each year, we visit the card and gift shops to find that special tribute to Mom. There is another side to Mother’s day and that is how do mothers feel about their children? This is my tribute to the four of you and your children.

So many times I heard and read about the joys of motherhood. Yet, Lyle, you were my first child. When the nurses placed you in my arms, I was overwhelmed. You were so tiny and so completely helpless. I looked at you and all kinds of emotions filled my being — confusion, doubt that I could be a good parent, and deep feelings of love, peace, and a resolve to give you the best opportunities I could. Those same hopes, dreams, and resolve were for each of you at your birth. I have cherished memories of each of you in my heart and I’m in different stages of compiling my memories (with pictures).

Growing up as “military brats” was not your lifestyle choice. It was Dad’s career due to time and circumstances. It was a financial necessity for me to pursue my career too. I was fortunate to have a civil service career with the Air Force. We can all remember the times Dad could not be present for important events in your young lives. He would be overseas serving in unaccompanied tours or working 12-hours’ shift work, plus taking off-duty courses pursuing his college degree. Sometimes I was in positions that had short and high-priority suspense dates to meet and could not take off from work to attend your special events. The choice was difficult and broke my heart. That was difficult for you too.

It was not always easy to say goodbye to your friends when Dad got assigned to another base. It was especially hard during your teenage years. You all were real troupers. You stayed positive and made the most of the travel and different customs at each base we were stationed.

There were times that I felt as if it were “y’all and me” against the world, but I never stopped loving and admiring you. I didn’t care whether or not you were the best looking, best student, or accomplished athlete—I just loved you with all my being! In return, I just wanted each of you to do the very best you could and live up to your fullest potential. I made every effort not to compare you with each other — each of you had your own unique personality and talents.

I truly enjoyed watching you grow from tiny babies to toddlers, to your school years, teenage years (including the many challenges), college, young adulthood, and parents. It was not always an easy transition — but you did it! Each of you has every right to proud of your accomplishments. My regret is that I didn’t protect and stick up for you in many instances, as I should have.

The pursuit of your dreams, careers, and establishing families has taken you to California, Colorado, and Louisiana. In my moments of aloneness, I wish we could live closer together. Then, I get involved with my memory writing about you. The miles separate us, but we are bound together with love, cell phones, and emails. I know in my heart that each of you is a beam of light in our confused world. Through you, there are now seven sparklers — your own precious children. Indeed the world is a better place because of you and I am so blessed to be you mother.

Gerlina “Geri” Smith lives in an Alpharetta retirement community, near one of her daughters. She attended what’s now Valdosta State University.

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