• Diane Mack: Happy birthday to an amazing mom

  • Three times a year, my good friends Carol and Joy and I go out for our birthdays. It was Carol's birthday a week ago, and we had a great dinner.

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  • Three times a year, my good friends Carol and Joy and I go out for our birthdays. It was Carol's birthday a week ago, and we had a great dinner.
    Both Carol and Joy have lost their moms in the past couple of years. I cried almost as much as they did.
    My friends did everything they could within their power to provide loving care for their moms.
    These past few months have been really hard on my mom. She has always been strong and healthy, willingly (and happily) handling anything that comes her way. She's been the chief caregiver for my dad since his stroke.
    Dad's caregiving has taken its toll on mom. In addition, mom's been diagnosed with Parkinson's.
    We all have amazing moms. When they leave this earth, we realize even more just how extraordinary they are.
    My mom lost her mother at age 7 and immediately became a mother to her siblings. At 19, she married. Shortly thereafter, she lost a daughter. Two years later, she lived through dad's violent car accident, when a driver ran a red light, throwing my dad through the windshield of his pickup.
    At that moment, mom became the bread-winner raising six children while caring for dad. It took a lifetime for dad to heal (they didn't know much about traumatic brain injury) and he was doing well.
    However, almost a decade ago, dad had a life-threatening stroke, and once again mom became his full-time caregiver. Dad is paralyzed, has a peg tube, is non-verbal and cannot provide much financial security to mom.
    However, she still smiles. Her faith, love of God and family keep her strong.
    Tomorrow is mom's 80-“something” birthday. I've thought about what I should buy her. She states, “Diane, I don't need anything.”
    For that reason, I have decided to focus this column on mom. I asked my children for their feelings about grandma.
    Adam: “Grandma is great because she cares more about others than herself.”
    Jared: “Grandma is one of the most selfless people I know. From helping out at church to cooking dinner for 70 people, she'll do it. From taking care of her bed-ridden husband 24 hours a day for the last 10 years to being an ear to hear everyone else's problems. I pray to be more like her daily.”
    Samantha: “She is always serving someone else. Every time we go back there, I hardly ever see her sit and relax. She is always making sure everyone has what they need. She is a great example of selflessness.”
    Kortney: “Grandma is the most caring, compassionate person I know. I strive to be like her daily. She is my inspiration of how to mother my children. I sure am blessed to call her grandma!”
    Page 2 of 2 - Emily: “One of the most amazing things about Grandma is her ability to know all her grandchildren, spouses of grandchildren and great grandchildren's names, faces, birthdays and even anniversaries.”
    Kelsey: “Grandma takes care of me and loves me.”
    Ashley: “Grandma exemplifies what it means to live a good life. Her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren adore her. She has served others her entire life and always made each person feel filled with self worth.”
    Jeremy: “I love her Sunday roasts and that she can't see over her car's steering wheel. She has always been truly loving to grandpa, no matter his health or his crazy jokes.”
    Mom, I love you. Have a wonderful birthday!
    Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County’s Family Week Foundation. Email her at jacksoncountyfamilyweek@yahoo.com or visit www.jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org.
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