I have been thinking about this post all week.
While I am pretty sure that Mom knows how much I appreciate her love and support over the years, it never hurts to come right out and say it.
To know me now, you would not suspect that when I was much younger I was a doubting, insecure artist. I didn't feel like I fit in anywhere and I was near blind and near deaf and I thought that there was no chance that I would be popular or successful in my lifetime.
Through all of this, Mom was there to encourage and support me. She helped me explore different activities and understand that I didn't have to do EVERYTHING that my brother did. She helped me find 4H, where she helped me go to State with my photography (I still have that photograph, I can see it from where I am typing right now). She let me not wear my hearing aids in jr high because I was so self conscious about them, even though it made schooling harder because I didn't understand what was happening in class.
I remember her tirelessly supporting and encouraging me to just be me. To believe in myself that whatever I put my mind to, I just needed to be me and do the best I could do. In doing my best, I would be successful.
I can recall a picture of me wearing a coonskin cap that Mom made (with little advance warning) for a play. It didn't matter what the school activity, hobby, scouting activity; Mom was always willing to do whatever it took to help out.
I can remember when I brought home a garter snake and she helped me put together a bucket with grass and some water so that I could keep the little snake. I liked snakes and frogs and mud and bicycles. She was so tolerant of my pets that she even let me keep a bullsnake in the house in her planter. It was just a little one, though... until he left the planter and was lost inside the house. She even supported my raising gerbils... to sell to the neighbor who had several boa constrictors and needed a source of food.
Even today, since Wife and I have started our family, you have made a point of coming up to visit just about every week to support and encourage our children (as well as give Wife and I a break) and offer occasional advice and suggestions or even an ear to listen when we get frustrated or overwhelmed. Both of the kids know the sound of your voice and RUN to you when you show up because they LOVE the relationship that they have with G'ma Pat.
I suppose in all of this rambling what I am trying to say is that not only do I love you, Mom. I appreciate all of the support and encouragement you have given me and continue to give me.
BTW, I completely enjoyed Betty White last night on SNL. Who knew an 88yo would be so funny talking about her muffin.