Mother's Day next to Christmas is arguably one of the most celebrated holidays of the year. It’s a tribute to the one that births and molds us into the persons we are today. If you are fortunate enough to still have your mother, you are blessed. Saying goodbye to my mother, Rosa Lee Hollerman Rice, in July 2013, was one of the hardest things I’ve experienced in life. Although it’s been almost five years, there are days I feel that same emptiness the night I got the call. “She’s gone”, my sister’s voice reverberated in the dark. I remember being asked, “Are you okay?” No doubt, I didn’t answer the first time. The persistence and volume in my sister’s voice pulled me back to the moment. The realization that Mama was gone rested in my heart. So much so that for a fleeting moment it felt like it stopped beating.
It was clear as a child the boundaries Mama set to establish there would be no mistaking our roles. I used to hear friends from school speak of their mother’s being their best friends and wondered why? Growing up, I knew I didn’t have all the answers or the experiences Mama brought to our relationship. Mama was my cheerleader, advocate, coach, and in the latter years of life, my friend. Being her last born, we shared a special bond.
In Her honor, I thought it fitting to share with others how much my mother impacts my life and even beyond the grave remains the wind beneath my wings.
It’s been almost five years since you began your eternal rest. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about you. Today, I want to share what a great mom you were. As the eldest of thirteen from the tender age of five you nurtured, cared for and loved your younger siblings, so there was no doubt that one day you’d be a great mom to your own children. Giving birth to nine babies was no easy feat; yet, you vowed to make sure growing up your children had different life experiences than the ones you had. You vowed we’d never go to bed hungry and we didn’t. You vowed to keep a roof over our heads, and you did. You disciplined us when necessary and love us always. Even in your last days, there was evidence of this.
I know one of your life dreams was to have been a teacher; yet, life circumstances forced you to end your educational goals at the eighth grade. It was then you had to stay home and as it was said back in the day, “to help around the house”. I will always cherish your original eighth-grade diploma and the Pupil’s Spelling Bee Certificate where you won the right to represent your school at the 1940 Tennessee State Department of Education Spelling Bee. Though your formal education ended early, you always modeled the importance of education and encouraged me and my siblings to do our best. It’s not by coincidence that now every time I enter a college classroom to teach, you are with me. You have always been the wind beneath my wings.
It was hard saying goodbye after an aggressive type of cancer separated us a mere one month after your diagnosis. Time is always considered short when a loved one dies. Yet, you were ready. You accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior and was ready to go. On this mother’s day, I memorialize You for what you gave the world through your unselfish and unwavering love. The legacy You left behind is the example of love, respect, humility, and grace.
I will always love you.