When the television network I work for put out a call to staff to send in photos of their moms to air as a tribute on Mother's Day, I didn't realize how difficult such a simple task would be. I had one print photo from my graduation day and that was about it.
I franticly emailed a few friends and family members to see if they had any on stock. The fact that I even had to do that depressed me greatly. I had plenty of photos taken with my dad and brothers and sisters, but hardly any with my mom. I resolved in that moment to take more pictures with my mother while I'm still blessed to have her on this earth.
Perhaps I sound a touch on the melodramatic side, but living so far from home for the last several years, pictures with family mean more to me than they ever have before. I need something to hold onto that affirms, "yes, we're family and we've shared memories together."
Luckily, my dad came through and sent me a low resolution photo taken from his iPhone.
This photograph represents one of the proudest days of my life (and one of the coldest nights in Canada I can remember). The documentary I had poured my heart and soul and sanity into for the last several months was making its premier in Calgary. I told my parents how much it would mean to have them there for such an important day.
I knew it was a long shot. It was sort of last minute and it was the middle of the week during the school year. Someone would have to watch my younger siblings. The flight from Oklahoma City to Calgary would be expensive, but they didn't even blink. Despite the fact that my mom is an organized planner still on mom-watch and absolutely abhors cold temperatures, she said she wouldn't miss it for the world.
And I needed her there. I was so nervous at something so personal being displayed on a massive theatre screen before several hundred strangers. With dad on my left and mom on my right, I held my mother's hand in a sweaty death grip. She squeezed back just as fierce.
I watched her watching the film. She cried at the parts I had cried at, laughed at the scenes I had laughed at in post-production, and smiled the proudest smile I've ever seen her smile over me. Yes, I needed her there desperately.
As the oldest of seven kids, it's easy to get lost in the sea of activities and accomplishments of my other siblings. Growing up, I felt I didn't have her approval on much, and over the years our relationship has been fraught with a sometimes tense dynamic.
When she was 19 years old, she married my dad and inherited me and my brother from his previous marriage. When I was 8 years old, she made the tremendously symbolic and important gesture of adopting me, and even then my insecurity failed me constantly as I doubted her love and acceptance of me as one of her own.
She sacrificed much to raise me and my brother at the time. Her youth, time alone with a new husband, and even her career. When she met my dad, she was enrolled in television broadcasting at a local college. I still find it funny that I ended up on the same path she wasn't able to finish so many years ago.
More than anything, I wish I could be home celebrating this Mother's Day with her. She likes the simple things on days like this. To be surrounded by her children in church, for her family to be at peace with each other and not bickering like we often do, and rest from her household chores.
That's why the small gesture of honoring her in my own small way was so important. I wanted the world to know that my lack of Kodak moments with her is not a reflection of my love and admiration for her. That I am a success because of her love for me. And while my mom may not have given birth to me, she has certainly given me life. No television montage on Mother's Day will ever be enough to honour that sacred gift.
So many years later, Mom finally makes her national television debut.