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For Mom.

This is far too overdue. I've been thinking about it for a long time, wondering how to even start. I can't adequately do it justice, but I have to say it today. My mom. Pam. I've felt she's deserved a book written about how extraordinary she is. See, she's the one you mistakenly overlook because of her steady untroubled presence. Here is where the world has gone wrong. She's not showy. She's not full of drama or intrigue. And if you've made the misstep of underestimating this woman you've failed to understand what's really remarkable about her.

What I know of my mother is that she is the kindest, most generous, most loving creature I've ever met. She played the part of the "bad guy" when my brothers and I were little, and I know that wasn't easy. My dad got to be fun and silly and break the rules with us, while Mom was the rules. She set the bedtimes and monitored our snack consumption. She was a stay-at-home mom for a large part of our childhood, so she was a constant presence. My dad traveled around the world for weeks, sometimes months at a time for his job, and Mom was there taking care of us. She made dinner every night. She started the tradition "good thing, bad thing" at supper. We went around the table saying only one bad thing that happened that day and as many good things as we wanted. (But we had to name at least one.) It was the best way I can think to keep apprised of each other's daily lives. It kept us so unbelievably close. And we still are today. Each night before bed when she'd come and kiss us goodnight she'd say, "Goodnight, sleep well, see you in the morning," and she'd blow three kisses to us all. We reciprocated. Even now when I travel back home we do the same thing.

These small things have meant something huge to me. They've meant that she has loved us for every second we've been alive. I know that my mom was meant to be our mother. She is the only one that could have done something so extraordinary for us.

But she's so much more than our mother.

She is an incredibly strong woman.

When things got harder financially for us, she went to work. She got odd jobs working for Hallmark, Payless, Fanny Farmer, Sam's Club, Starion Bank, and now the DOT. I know it wasn't easy to get back into the workforce, especially doing jobs about which she wasn't anywhere near passionate. She did what she had to. She started her own business making and selling neckties. Spry Ties. She is a great seamstress.

She paints watercolors.

The travesty in all of this is that she herself is often painted as less glamorous than the rest of us somehow. After my parents divorced it became harder. She had to relearn how to date after over twenty years of marriage. She was alone. But my god was she strong. To have to pick up the pieces and continue on, taking care of herself, the house, and always us.

She has always been selfless. She donated bone marrow when I was in elementary school. Our home was the place where all the neighborhood kids hung out, and all our friends stayed when they needed somewhere to go. She took care of the kids. She took care of my dad's mother. She has always been my example of how to treat others.

Mom is also fiercely defiant when she believes in something. I remember being so embarrassed because she argued about a pair of pantyhose from the dollar store that were ripped. They wouldn't let her return them, and boy was that unacceptable. They were a dollar, but it was the principle of the thing. And she used to refuse to move forward in the drive-thru lane when they wanted to bring the food out to us a bit later.

She stands up for what she believes. She doesn't back down. In such a conservative state she was a refuge for my gay friends. My godfather is gay.

She taught me that different isn't bad.

She taught me how to love.

When any of us kids have gotten sick or been in any sort of trouble as adults Mom has been there. She is the absolute strongest person I know. She is the unwavering strength that holds us all together. She is our family. And if she doesn't know that we all would do anything for her, then that is our mistake.

She deserves the world, and she doesn't ask for it. What I want more than anything is to be successful enough to be able to take care of her the way she deserves. And you know what? Men out there, fuck you if you can't see what she is. If you can't give her nothing but love and support and travel and warmth and kindness and playfulness then go away. Don't waste her time. Don't you go near her because she loves deeply and trusts and should never be hurt again.

She's in terrible pain every day, and yet she goes on. As she gets older her circumstances seem to get more and more unfair. If there was anything I could do to make it all go away, I would.

I have the incredible honor of counting her one of my best friends. We talk on the phone almost every day even if it's just to say, "Well, I've got nothin'." I need these moments. I realize that I know more about my girlfriends my own age than about my mother. This is where I've got to do better. I want to know about her thoughts and feelings as a child growing up in the 60s in Bismarck, North Dakota. I know some of her crushes (Donny Osmond) and what she wanted to be when she grew up (chiropractor), but what I don't know is important. I want to know when she had her first kiss. I want to know what it was like when she first fell in love. What it felt like to find out she was pregnant with me when she was still a young student in college. Was she scared? Does she feel at all resentful that she quit and started a family? I need to ask her these things today. We'll have a lot more to say than, "I've got nothin'."

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