You’ll Always Be “Mom”

You’ll Always Be “Mom”

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom

You’ll Always Be “Mom”

I have fallen in love with American names, the sharp, gaunt names that never get fat.
~Stephen Vincent Benet

The first time I got lost at a grocery store was a very confusing day for me. When the store manager asked for my mom’s name so he could page her, I told him that her name was “Mom.” He said, “I know she’s your mom, but what is her name?” I stared at him blankly. My brother and I both called my mom “Mom” and even my dad called her “Mom” as in “go ask Mom.” I’d never heard anyone call her anything else.

Trying to help the grocery store manager I told him that her name was “Mom Hill” so he paged “Mrs. Hill.” When she came to get me the store’s manager told her that she needed to teach me her first name. My mom looked at me with amusement and said, “Becky, you don’t know that my name is Kandy?” That confused me further. I knew what candy was, but why was my mom named candy? She said, “It’s Kandy with a K.” I didn’t know how to spell yet so that didn’t help.

On the drive home I asked if Dad’s name was “Dad.” She said no, that his name was “Don.” I felt betrayed. Why had everyone been lying to me and using fake names? When we got home I asked if my brother Matt was really named “Matt?” My mom said, “No, Matt’s name is actually Donald. Matt is his middle name.” So all this time I thought I was living with Mom, Dad and Matt but in reality I was living with Kandy, Don and Donald.

The next morning, I asked my mom if my name was really “Becky.” She said, “No. Actually your name is Rebecca.” I looked at her with great suspicion. My mom explained that “Becky” is a nickname for “Rebecca.” It required a leap of faith, but I chose to believe her because this “mom person,” this “Kandy with a K,” whoever she really was, had always been kind to me and she was in fact my favorite, and most trusted, person in the world.

That was the first, but certainly not the last time my mom had to explain the nuances of life to me. Over the years my mom also had to explain that the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz were just pretend and that there was no way they were going to fly into my room and get me; she also had to explain that broken hearts do mend with time and that eventually I would meet a great guy, one who was much nicer and much cuter than the boy I was crying over; and most recently, she had to fly cross country to explain to me in person how certain medicines could, and in fact would, beat an auto-immune disease that was attacking my eyes. In all of these cases, it required a leap of faith, but again, I chose to believe her and (thankfully) in all of these cases, she was right!

So, I’d like to thank my mom for always being there to clear things up, especially when life was at its most confusing. As a forty-year-old I now know my mother’s name is “Kandy” but to me her name, the one I will always hold closest to my heart, will always be “Mom.”

~Rebecca Hill

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