It’s Mother’s Day this coming Sunday in the U.S., you see, so I wanted to write a few thoughts down to honor my mom, an extraordinary woman and wonderful mother to me (ok, it’s a long one, so grab a cup of coffee).
My mom – Maxine Morarie – mother to six children. I am #5.
My mom gave birth to me in the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia. Mom was 18 and Dad was 23 when they left their home in the United States to be missionaries in the country of Bolivia. Over the years all six of us Morarie kids [3 boys and 3 girls – Howie, Nancy, Mike, Mark, Me and Tricia] were born in Bolivia. Here are some old pics of the family as we grew over the years:
The first picture shows me as a baby with my older siblings – Howard, Nancy, Mark and Mike; the second I was in elementary school and Howie and Nancy lived in the US by then; the last one I am in high school, all my older siblings lived in the US and it was just Tricia Lee and I at home.
Over the years in Bolivia in the earlier days we never had television and my mom kept us very entertained through the wonderful world of imagination from many books. She is still the best “out loud” reader of stories ever. I can still hear her dramatic rendition of “Rikki Tiki Tavi”. I remember sitting on the edge of my seat as she read us the story.
My mom also sang all kinds of songs to me growing up. Some that my Grandma Clara and Grandpa Meardith sang to her, she passed along, and I’ve passed along to my girls and now am singing to my granddaughter Clara. Songs like:
- Mairzy Doats – http://youtu.be/3_1uQ9wn0qQ
- Three Little Fishies – http://youtu.be/xaJ-Ou5gTdw
- Chickery Chick – http://youtu.be/RCH9mPhfZrw
- I Went to the Animal Fair – http://youtu.be/kbcKvW-mjfA
- The Cannibal King – http://youtu.be/e_ikA_MppBc
- Little Sir Echo – http://youtu.be/ANNPPFL8bBQ
In my mind there was nothing my mom could not do. I’m sure this frustrated her to some extent as I happily volunteered her for all kinds of things over the years. One time our student council decided to have an ice-cream social. “My mom will make ALL the toppings!” I happily announced in one of our meetings. Well…she did, for the ENTIRE student body. I’ll never forget the enormous amount of chocolate sauce, pineapple sauce and other toppings she sent for this event. Later she let me know just how “fun” that little stint was for her.
She also tried to teach me to cook and sew. Unfortunately I have this propensity to always think I possibly might be able to do things even better without directions…so, I would “half listen” to her instruction and therefore many of my projects were only half right! J I remember the baby blanket I was learning to crotchet turning into a king size afghan. I remember watching the whipping cream turn to butter – apparently you need to turn the beaters off once the white stiff peaks form. I remember my Mom sweetly wearing very interesting dresses that I made which I would have sewn very “creatively” – somehow they didn’t look quite right, but to show her pride and love she would wear them anyway. I also remember the sewing project my friend Alison Murrin and I had one summer to make halter top dresses. Now remember, we are both missionary kids growing up in a very conservative environment, but somehow we thought by making this a sewing project so our moms could really teach us how to sew that they would say, “Of course you can wear these halter top dresses with pride, you made them after all!” Well, they didn’t exactly say that. We were allowed to wear them, but only over the top of t-shirts that our moms bought for us with our names on the back (classy) and then the dresses didn’t really look like halter dresses at all but just big blue aprons. Oh well. I’m over it now…
My mom never seemed to ever raise her voice. She probably would tell you she did, but I honestly can’t remember her ever doing so with me. She was appropriately stern but I always knew she loved me. We lived through many memories together – getting tear gassed while shopping for some material in the streets of Cochabamba, rushing to the doctor when I wasn’t breathing because I swallowed a sliver of bamboo from the cotton candy stick we bought at the zoo…she had to hold me down while the doctor grabbed some kind of tweezers and shoved them down my throat to remove the sliver. She nursed me back to health after an episode with hepatitis one summer. We read Little Women together that summer. She found me a wonderful classical piano teacher and cheered me on as I learned, not letting me get away without practicing. She was the one who would always come up with a great costume, a fun skit, amazing speeches, student council slogans, and so much more as things came up. I remember my friends often would say, “Ask your mom, she’ll know and she’ll help us!”
She would make THE BEST fried chicken and cherry pie for my birthdays and would help organizing wonderful picnic and fishing trips for my birthday parties with my dad.
There is one thing you should know about my mom, however, those of you who know I am competitive (ok – VERY competitive) you need to know that it comes from my mom! This is a woman who promised me a very prestigious award at the end of a series of Scrabble games. I didn’t really know what the award would be, but just knowing it was something she created was enough for me and with a vengeance we battled back and forth through the Scrabble games and low and behold I WON! Yes! I was to get this wonderful, amazing, said award. Hmmm. It was a certificate that said: TO: A Great GGP (Great Game Player) with some flowery rhetoric about being a gifted Scrabble Player. However, it was signed: FROM: A Greater GGP. Hilarious. Anyone who plays games with my mom knows there is no mercy. You earn your right to win and endure the smack talk along the way.
She’s a practical joker and has been known to add string to pancake batter for unsuspecting souls to try to cut as they drool over a bite of a pancake. She’s greased doorknobs, short sheeted poor tired folks, made cheese sandwiches with a bar of soap that resembled the color of cheddar cheese and oh, there’s more, but I’m probably already in trouble for listing these things. Suffice it to say she has a wonderful sense of humor and if you’re around her when she belly laughs – you will laugh too, it’s a contagious laugh that is often sprinkled into the conversations and encounters with my mom.
As I grew up and began to assert my own independence and desire to live my own life, she patiently watched me do so and gently intervened as needed but mostly just encouraged me, assuring me that I could do whatever I put my mind to doing.
I thought that after I came to Colorado that my adult life would be one with her absent as I anticipated she would be living overseas, still doing mission work there. But, life plays out differently than we think [probably most of the time] and one of the sweetest blessings God has given me was that my mom ended up living only a few miles away from me for the better part of the past 2 decades and it has been wonderful! She is a top notch grandma and great-grandma to my girls and Clara Ray. She has a full life, but is always willing to be present with you. I talk to her almost every day and I am reminded that this is a gift – one that I never dreamed we’d have. I am grateful for each day we are able to chat as the years go by.
My mom is a woman of great faith. She modeled and showed me what a life of following Jesus looks like. Her life is filled with prayer and leaning on the arms of Jesus in all circumstances. We’ve celebrated together, cried together, mourned together, argued together, walked wearily together, nursed each other through health issues, planned together…I am certainly one of the lucky ones. One who is so thankful to have a mother who is 100% engaged in my life and cheers me on no matter how crazy I am. I’m sure it’s been a challenge a time or two to be my mom – so, thanks, MOM, for being my mom in those times and thanks for the grace you’ve shown me over the years. I love you and treasure our relationship. May the Lord bless you tremendously and fill your heart with peace and joy this Mother’s Day. I know you are human, we are all human, but honestly, if someday I can be the woman that you are – wow! What a day that will be.
Happy Mother’s Day to the best mom ever!
P.S. For those who know my mom and didn’t get to see the video we made for her 80th birthday last August, it’s a fun one: https://vimeo.com/47962712