Not only are we scarily alike, but everyone says I look just like her (I don't see it - but then, I never do, I think everyone looks like themself). She has always been there for me, just like a mom should, but she's so much more than that. She supported me when I chose to be an Italian major in college. I was passionate about it, and she saw that and therefore didn't try to talk me out of it. Thanks Mom. It might not be the most useful degree, but man I enjoyed those four years :) When I left for the summer to study abroad in Florence, my mom FINALLY learned to get online and send emails. It took many "training sessions" to get her comfortable on my computer, and even a "how-to" cheat sheet; but by the time I arrived home again after being gone, she was an internet-addict. It's been hard to tear her away from the internet even now, 8 years later.
She has supported me through so many ups and downs in life, and so many major decisions could not be made without her go-ahead. She let me make my own mistakes and my own path in life, giving advice when asked, but also stepping back and allowing me to find out what worked, and what didn't. When I found those things that didn't work, and my heart was broken or my spirit beaten down, she has always been there for me. Looking out for me, and my best interest, has always been at the top of her priority list. My mom rarely puts herself first; she cares so much about everyone around her.
After college I did something that made me feel even closer to my mom though it took me farther away from home. I joined the Peace Corps. My Peace Corps experience took me overseas to Eastern Europe, Bulgaria to be exact. (See the website I created for my experience HERE.) Like I said, it took me farther away from home, but I was more connected to my mom than ever. She is an incredible person, liberal in many ways, a Kennedy kid, who grew up in the Peace Corps era. She remembers it being created, and I believe she would have joined herself had she not had us kids. She still may join someday - it's right up her alley.
When mom came to visit me in Bulgaria about 9 months in, we had a heck of a time. I got to show her "my Bulgaria" which meant mom sleeping in the same cruddy hotels that I stayed in, ride the same rickety buses that I rode in, use the same turkish toilets, and see the same amazing things. She still says one of her favorite days is when she came to school with me, attended some classes and got to meet my kids. I loved that class 8G - 26 students who were so eager to meet the mom of that "crazy american teacher that sits on the desk, talks to us like we are equals, and has to look up every bulgarian word in the dictionary still and if she can't find the word she'll draw a picture of it..." She brought an entire bag of stuff just for those kids. Pens, pencils, notebooks, erasers...it was such a great class. We had lunch together in the city center square, and then I left to go teach some more, and left Mom to wander town on her own. I was soooooo nervous that she'd get lost, or set her wallet down, or something bad would happen. It was a Monday, so the Bazaar was in town, one of my favorite things, so I sent her off in that direction and made her promise she'd meet me back RIGHT HERE in one hour! I was shocked to see that she didn't get lost :).
When I took her back to the airport after three great weeks of showing her my life, we cried. She thanked me for taking her around, and said that now she knew that no matter how much I told her about my experiences, or showed her pictures, she never would have understood without coming to see it herself. You see, my mom didn't get a passport until I left for Bulgaria. Her first visit overseas was to see me, in a developing country, full of history and beauty. It was a phenomenal three weeks and probably my favorite time while I was there. Here are some of the pictures from her visit:
So now here we are, present day. Almost Mother's Day. My mom, selfless as always, isn't at home. She's with my sister, taking care of my baby niece while my sister finishes up work before summer break.
I hope she knows just how much I appreciate her for who she is; a loving, caring, giving Mom, who supports me through all my ups and downs. You know what they are Mom. I don't need to share them here. But thank you. Your support and love through the hard times is what gets me through it, and when good things happen, I want to share them with you. I love you.