Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Priceless Birthday Present

For my 45th birthday I received a surprise treasure from my mother. An unassuming box arrived in the mail, and there was no telling what would be in it because she has a knack for creative presents. This year she sent something of great personal value to her and now to me. It was from a time many years before I was born.

Carol and Charlie "JUST MARRIED" in 1960
 Back in 1961, my parents were newlyweds and financially strapped like many young folks. The stuff we take for granted today would have been considered luxurious for them at that time of their lives, especially since they were spending their summer working at Sky Ranch, a camp for "challenged" campers. Some of these young kids had no arms or legs, or suffered from the effects of polio and birth defects. My mother said that these children taught her and my father so much and made the summer a memorable experience.

Carol and Charlie Hughes in 1961
Having little money, my father got creative for their first wedding anniversary. He made my mom something with his own hands. In a way, these kinds of gifts represent an investment of time and love. Not to say that a store-bought gift is not appreciated, but in our product driven world, most people have stopped making things themselves. My father would continue to make her gifts for the rest of his life as seen by these whimsical butterflies made of crushed rock, wire and wood.

My dad carved for my mother a small wooden figure of woman carrying a baby on her back. For anyone who knows my Mom, they will know that this has more than a surface meaning. 

She has raised 4 of her own children, 4 grandchildren, a gang of neighborhood kids and several stadiums worth of teenaged counselors and campers. Not only that, she was the oldest of 8 siblings and helped with her mother with baby raising duties.

The timeworn face of a mother
To me, the figurine of a mother carrying her children symbolizes her perfectly. I suspect my father knew this when he carved it. My Mom  put her children before her own concerns. The weight was heavy as you can see from the stooped back, but she did it anyway... and is still doing it today in her late 70s.

You may never meet a more caring, insightful and funny lady. Many of our late night calls are filled with laughter and funny yarns filled with juicy details... just the way a good tall tail should be told. She is the type of person who knows who everyone is at somebody else's family reunion. I am sure she has introduced cousins who did not even know that they were related. My mom will make strangers feel welcome, and always let you know how much she loves you. I kinda feel sorry for the rest of the world, because I have the best mom out there... just saying.