Dedicated to the Mothers who Guided Me

To all mothers who love their children, guide them, raise them, and teach them: I heartily salute you. I have not been blessed with the honor of becoming a mother. There is an ache, and an emptiness, that I hope one day will be filled. But, today I am not mourning anything! I am celebrating the mothers I know best.

Mary Gertrude Bellows (Snook)

My mother’s mother was born in Iowa. My grandfather, Donno Bellows, took her to the prom. She wore a blue velvet dress and he told me she looked so beautiful. They fell in love. He went to war. They married. They had two children. Mary suffered the death of her oldest son, Michael Bellows. She lived to see her daughter, Mary Katherine, marry and have two daughters. What people remember about her was her amazing ability to cook, her fondness for snowball candles and Lladro statues, how much she loved her family. I remember her smell, I remember an always full jar of gumdrops. I wish I remembered more. I ask about her often. I think it’s funny how you can miss someone you didn’t even really know. I was 13 when she lost her battle with emphysema, and one would think I could remember her, but I don’t very well. I think I miss her on my mother’s behalf, or because I think it’s so terribly unfair that everyone else really knew her and I didn’t. I miss her and I wonder what she would have thought of me and how I grew up. Happy Mother’s Day Granny. Thank you for making my Mommy.

Florence Wilma Leonard (Ware)

My father’s mother was born in upstate New York. My grandfather, Dick Leonard, swept her off her feet for a 52-year romance that lasted until the day her heart stopped beating. Grandma was the mother to six children, grandmother to 14, great-grandmother to 7. She was the absolute matriarch of the family, keeping every single one of us in line, or at least expressing her disdain when we didn’t behave accordingly. One never doubted that he or she was loved by Grandma. She always had her nails done, loved buying jewelry and kept every ugly Christmas ornament a grandchild made for her. She is my connection to my Jewish roots and even though she didn’t believe in God, the Jewish culture she was raised in is impossible to deny. She definitely grew into an old Jewish grandma and although I asked her as many questions as I could think to ask about her family and her childhood, there are so many I realized I didn’t get around to asking. There is no one left to ask. I miss her. We all miss her. Happy Mother’s Day Grandma. Thank you for making my Father.

Mary Katherine Leonard (Bellows)

I know other people love their mothers, and I’m happy that they do. I know other people have special relationships with their mothers and I’m happy for that too. But, my mother and I have something special. She isn’t my best friend, but she never wanted to be. She is still my Mommy. I still sit right next to her on the couch. I still snuggle with her. I love hugging her. I miss her when she’s not around. I respect her so much. When I was little and my dad was sick, she took care of him, her parents, my sister and I. I never remember her complaining, although I’m sure she did. What I remember is love. Every memory I have of my childhood is overflowing with love. I would wake up at 3am when she got off her shift at the hospital and we would watch Tom and Jerry together. She came to every softball game, track meet and game that I cheered at. She even came to watch my girls perform when I was a coach. She was always the proud mother and I hope I continue to make her proud. She will always have a proud and grateful daughter. I’m not sure what I did to deserve such a loving and amazing woman as my mother, but I’d gladly do it ten times over. Thank you for making me.

Sarah Elizabeth Leonard

Seven years older than me and I’m not sure she was particularly happy at my arrival. But, over the years, she sacrificed for my benefit. She suffered under the tyranny of a little sister who terrorized her at every turn, not that she didn’t throw a jab or two every once in awhile. I’m not sure I needed to see The Shining at five years of age, and no, it is still not “funny” Sarah. My sister wasn’t like a mother to me, although she took care of me, but she gave me the greatest gift: the gift of being an aunt. I don’t think I love anything in this world as much as I love my nephew. He is the light of all of our lives, and though he is often so much like his mother that we laugh out loud, he is a singular being who I am sure will grow into a handsome, polite, if not strong-willed, young man. I love my sister, and I love how we are growing up together, still. The joys of being an aunt are the closest I have to being a mom. Thank you making Gabriel.

There are other mothers who deserve recognition, mothers who are special to me:

Victoria Fridley (godmother)

Cheryl Johnson (godmother)

Lori Leonard (aunt)

Lori Harless (aunt)

Christine Kirby (mother of my “brother”)

Linda Hewett (mother of my friend)

Lidia McCollister (mother of my friend)

Joyce Reeves (mother of my friend)

Brittany Brannon (friend)

Hayley Galyan (friend)

Ivana Carter (friend)

Amy Cobb (friend)

I am blessed to know you. You are inspirations.

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