I believe most people have secrets they keep with them for a lifetime. Secrets that may be ugly, sinister, or by the standards of others, even silly, but nevertheless, a secret they choose not to share with anyone including family and close friends. I have such a secret, and it is neither ugly nor sinister, and it is not silly at all. It is simply a part of me that I have never found words to express. It is a secret that no one knows but me – until now.
My biological mother was not my real mama. I mean no disrespect to the mother who gave birth to me; I loved her, and in her unique way she loved me also. I was not a mama’s boy, not by choice, but because my mother thought that was a weakness. Maybe, she was right, but neither of us will ever know for sure. She raised me in a time when teaching your children to be strong was more important than love, although now I believe she would agree teaching a child to love is part of being strong. She was a good mother, and I often miss her, but without my real mama, I would not be where I am today.
Growing up, my mother’s love always had conditions, but my real mama wiped away the conditions and loved me for who I am, not who she wanted me to be. That is real love. I call this other woman in my life, my “real mama” because she continued to raise me long after I left my mother’s house. She kept the wheels on the axle even after I had worn them to shreds. She was the unconditional love I needed to remind me that I was good enough even when I failed. This lady, and she is truly a lady, has been my shade tree when there were no trees.
A mama’s dreams often take a backseat to the dreams of her children and her husband; within their dreams lay the sacrifices and unselfishness of an angel. My wife has been that angel. On this Mother’s Day, after forty-two years of marriage, I wanted to take a moment to honor and celebrate the love of a woman who has stood by me and yes, even raised me (it is still an ongoing struggle, but she keeps hanging around), raised two sons who are great husbands and fathers and a daughter who has turned out to be as awesome a mother as her mama. Although she will probably take exception to my referring to her as “my real mama,” I hope she understands I do so with the greatest of love. I do so because she is the story behind my story.
Happy Mother’s Day to my wife! Thank you for not throwing in the towel.
©Jack Linton, May 8, 2016