Today is my Mom's birthday. First, I love you. Second, thank you. Third, happy birthday!
Growing up, if I had to put Mom in terms of moms, she was the combination of the quintessential mom Carol Brady, creatively fun science lady Mrs. Frizzle, and what I would imagine Ruth Bell Graham to be as a mom. Quite a combo, right?
The word "bored" was not allowed in the Hanks' household. This was Mom's rule. She wouldn't allow it. And she never told us to just go play outside and left it at that. She actively taught us how to use our imagination and discovery skills. Because we were homeschooled as children, this made her an incredible teacher. From building a walk-through model of the ear, to raking leaves into a to-scale replica of the U.S. flag in the backyard (yes, we actually did this), to building the coolest living room tents made out of couch cushions and sheets; she kept us busy and always learning. She also taught us how to seek God within His Creation and that only God can make something so beautifully complex yet equally beautiful in its simplicity and elegance of design. Mom is also the reason why at the end of writing this, I will go back through and lip-bitingly analyze my use of punctuation as well as the reason why I have purposefully omitted any use of the verb form to lay, lie, have lied or oh wait, is it lain? - this is why I am stopping now. She was a stickler in teaching grammar. (DISCLAIMER FOR MOM - some of the writing may not be complete in its grammatical accuracy in order to capture the thought and wording in my mind as is and is no reflection on your supreme grammatical instruction. :-) )
I remember as a child waking up and walking into the kitchen in the morning and there Mom would be - at the table with her cup of hot tea and laying in front of her was her open Bible. She showed us everyday where the importance of life was and in Whom it was to be found. She taught us that it was ok to ask God questions, even the hard ones, and to let Him show us the answers. She taught us the value of marriage from a Biblical perspective and what it means to love in a never-failing, undending way as God does. She had patience when we may not have always gotten all of these lessons. She had patience when when these lessons were tried.
Nancy Reagan said "A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water." Mom's a strong cup of tea! Life changed for our family when my Dad had a bout with illness. Dad was in the hospital in the neuro-intensive care unit for several months and Mom left his side during the entire time only to research his illness in the hospital's library and to grab a quick nap in the lounge area. When he was released we began the next long journey to full recovery. I went to public shool and Mom continued to homeschool my three siblings. During this time Mom, who had been a stay-at-home mom since I was born, got a part-time job in the evenings. She took care of Dad and taught during the day. I can't figure when the next feat was slipped in looking at the timeline now, but that's about the time she started going back to school herself. These were tough times. She was so strong. By the time I was a freshman in college, Mom and I were taking the same core science courses, me at Texas A&M and Mom at Stephen F. Austin. I got to come home on the weekends to "Oh, didn't you love that chapter about pH? How did you do on your test? I made a 102!" Don't ask, Mom - just don't ask. There really just are no excuses that seem valid to a woman who is working full-time, raising three kids, and taking classes at night and still maintaining a 4.0. Mom went on to earn her degree with honors. She became a high school biology teacher. She won Teacher of the Year her first year of teaching.
Mom, you have given us all something to which we should aspire: a life that holds no place for limitations. This is the gift you have given me among many. Thank you to my Mom, my role model, my teacher, the Birthday Girl, and most importantly - my friend.