49: Superglue

49: Superglue

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Best Mom Ever!


A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take.

~Cardinal Mermillod

I remember closing the door on the station wagon to go into school that day. I also remember my mother calling me back to open and close it again, so I thought that I had just not closed it well enough. It wasn’t until my mother picked me up from school that I realized it was something else. My mom’s hand was wrapped in bandages and she had a splint on one of her fingers. When I asked her what had happened, she did not want to tell me, but I begged her to.

Of course she assured me that it wasn’t my fault but I was devastated. I know I cried and that my mother probably cried, knowing I felt so bad. It would be a while, though, before I realized that a broken finger was not going to stop my supermom.

When I was in middle school, my father was working in the steel mills in Pennsylvania. He was laid off four times; each time the layoffs were just the beginning of the mill going out of business. During that time, my mother actually worked four jobs to keep food on the table. She was a schoolteacher, a newspaper reporter, a typing teacher at the local community college, and a server at the country club. Yet, we still lost our house.

It was devastating, but my parents made the most of it. With two weeks to move out, we found a small country house to rent a few miles away and moved everything in our Jeep. My mother even sat on the bottom of our eight-foot sofa, with the top hanging out the back of the Jeep. Her willingness to roll up her sleeves and do what was needed, with a smile on her face, really helped.

A few years later, I was in high school and she was still working several jobs while my dad worked as a night security guard. One night my mother returned from a meeting and was about to head back out to the newspaper to write up her story. She slipped on the wet steps to our deck, cutting open both knees. She was convinced that she could just change her pantyhose and continue on to the paper to file her story. We had to convince her to stay and called our father to come home and take her to the hospital. It required several stitches and bandages, which we thought might keep her down for a few days. Of course, she was up bright and early the next morning, going on with her work and that article; it was put in the next day with no further delay.

Less than two years later, my father got a job in Georgia, far away from our home in Pennsylvania. Despite our protests, my mother led the way, parenting us without him for several months and leading us in packing up our house for the movers. We left after my older sister’s high school graduation ceremony, climbed in the car and took off for Georgia. My sister and I swore we would return north for college. We both ended up graduating from the University of Georgia and stayed home through college, which pleased our mother.

It was my mother who suggested that I call the handsome young man who had given me his number while riding the bus at college. I was not sure if I should, but her words, “Call him, you never know how you will meet your husband,” were prophetic when I married that wonderful man less than a year later.

When my mother finally became an empty nester she tried to fill her life with work and church. At church, she heard about a beautiful young girl who needed a family. After discussing it, my parents realized that they did not like an empty house. They ended up adopting four more children over the next several years and hosting several foster children.

I soon realized how lucky I was to have such a strong, close family when my husband went hunting and never returned home. His body was found at the bottom of a tree, the broken tree stand lying beside him. That night seemed to last forever as my family drove across the state to be with me as I buried my soul mate. They continued to support me as I moved back home and went back to college to change careers as a way of dealing with my grief. When I had lived at home long enough, it was my mother who insisted that I move out and become independent again.

Several years later, as I came to realize that I would probably never remarry, my parents took in two young boys as foster children. The two tumbling towheads quickly won my heart and, when my parents decided that they were too old to adopt children that young, I decided that I would adopt them instead.

My parents fostered the boys until I was cleared to adopt and have supported me ever since, caring for the boys while I’m at work. Even though I am technically a single parent, I really am not. I have my parents, and especially my amazing mother, backing me up.

It was my mother’s strength and determination that helped me become the strong woman and mother that I am today. She is also the superglue that has held my family together through many challenges. The love that she has given not only her biological children but her foster and adopted children and grandchildren is her legacy. I am thankful every day that I was born to such an amazing mother.

~Melissa Basinger Green

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