Close Enough


It’s not a real word, but it is the only word that can sum up this Michigan born lady with raven black hair, a mischievous smile and a constellation of talents that made her a wonder of nature.

As a:

  • Mother, she corralled and crafted her five youngsters without breaking a sweat
  • Grandmother, she knew precisely what each of her dozen plus little ones loved and wanted
  • Pastor’s wife, she reveled in Sundays, lived to hear her husband preach and would gladly pack up the house to move cross-country whenever the call came
  • Incredible cook, she would throw a feast for 50 at the drop of a hat and was happiest when her house was full of her loved ones stuffing themselves with her carefully created delicacies
  • Bookkeeper, she could balance bank books and reconcile corporate accounts with apparent ease

She was an amazing woman. She was my mom.

I know it makes her sound like Wonder Woman, but don’t get me wrong. While she was excessively talented, amazingly attentive and incessantly efficient, Mom wasn’t perfect.

But she was close enough.

Some of her flaws were laughable. She was completely tone-deaf in a profoundly musical family. She was a pastor’s wife but loved tawdry soap operas. Cleanliness was not next to godliness…it WAS godliness! She ironed everything, dressed her children up like mannequins for Sunday church and went catatonic if she missed her weekly hair appointment.

Some of her imperfections came from deeper places. She could be austere, distant and closed. She could incite fear with the snap of a finger and was quicker to spank than to spoil. She was sometimes inflexible, often preoccupied, frequently worried and always busy.

In reality, she was just a mom–made so by the five little crazies she was trying to keep from destroying the world.

Yet she was so much more than just a mom.

Mother’s Day lends itself to the altered state of selective memory. Gushing with varnished recollections and characterized by retouched mental portraits, the celebrations lose their power because they commemorate an image not a real person.

My thoughts this Mother’s Day are not laced with sappy nostalgia or colored by embellished reminiscences void of her foibles and idiosyncrasies.

I can’t remember her that way because I look in the mirror each day and see so many of her strengths and weaknesses staring back at me.

Edna Jane was a real person–with real flaws, deep needs and strange quirks.

I will not gloss over them because I want to celebrate the real person. I want to revel in her scars and blemishes, not just her gifts and virtues.

Mom wasn’t perfect. But she was close enough.

And in the end, after a twelve years of hand-to-hand combat with the mind-ravaging and personality-sapping despot called Alzheimer’s, there wasn’t much left of this larger than life person.

In those last days when she was wasted away to nothing, diapered and dentureless, staring blankly into space, mute and mindless–she was anything but perfect.

But she was close enough to perfect for me.

I love you Mom…and I miss you every day.

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