Whether prepared or not, we sometimes get into situations or circumstances that not only test us,
but in many ways, define who we are. It may be God's way of challenging our faith, commitment, and resiliency. Whatever the reason, no one goes through life on the good ship lollipop, void of trials, tribulations, and tragedy.
My mother, Charlene Devlin, had her character set in stone a long time ago, and those who know
her, know what I'm talking about. The only child of blue-collar parents from the south side of Chicago, she is an unselfish and generous woman, who has never been in a bad mood or said a bad thing about anyone in her life. Ok, so she had some harsh words about my ex-girlfriend, but they were more than well-deserved.
Mom was the one who woke up at 4:30 every morning to make my sister breakfast and drive her to swim practice before school. She did the same after school, taking Kara, who turned into a world-class swimmer, for more mind-numbing workouts, encouraging her only daughter to just do her best, that's all.
Mom was the one who would go to my brother's head-banging, blow-your-eardrums out, rock
band performances with a smile on her face, not quite understanding the words my brother, Pat,
was screaming into a microphone or knowing if the music he was playing, was any good. She
was the one who always had my baseball uniform cleaned, and offered words of encouragement when I was struggling, which was quite often in my college and minor-league years. Nobody did more and asked for less than good ole, Mom. She lived by the phrase, "It's better to give, than
it is to receive."
However, Mom was really put to the test in 2003, when my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. The mental deterioration of Dad, who was smart, funny, and witty, was shocking and devastating to all of us. He was our hero. To know that he had no chance against a disease that
would eventually steal his mind, was heart-wrenching and deflating. But Mom became the beacon who guided us through the storm. She became the captain who righted the ship when it appeared it was about to capsize.
My Dad had treated my mother like a queen, cherishing her every day, taking care of everything: The money, the bills, and everything else that goes with being a great patriarch and provider.
When Dad could no longer handle his every day tasks, Mom was thrust into the role of both
mother and father. All of a sudden, it was her that was paying all the bills, taking care of the taxes, and managing everything else that came her way. And boy, a lot came her way. There was an explosion in the furnace that caused the dispersion of soot that infiltrated every piece of furniture
and clothing in the house. She took care of everything with no complaints.
Every piece of clothing had to be sent out to get cleaned, every wall had to be repainted, and
every piece of furniture had to be cleansed refreshed. Then it started to pour. Cats and dogs, and
in huge buckets.
While I was working in Boston, I received a call from a neighbor saying that my Mom had a
bad accident. She had fallen down the stairs outside and suffered a 6-inch gash to the forehead
and a cracked sternum. A neighbor went into my parents and tracked down my number.
I made the three-hour trek home from Boston to find my Mom resting on the couch, big
bandage on her forehead, and still wearing a blood-soaked t-shirt. But she was more concerned
about my father's welfare than her own. She diligently gave him his medication fed him dinner,
and showered him before he went to bed. I was in awe. Here was a woman who suffered serious
injuries and all she cared about was making sure our father was OK.
She also made sure that Dad lived his normal life as his mental health started to go in a steep
decline. Mom wanted to make sure that Dad kept doing the things he loved to do. She'd shower
and clothe him, take him to church every day, bring him to the driving range to hit balls that
never went very far, drove him to the club to work out, then back home for dinner.
This was her routine EVERY DAY, weather permitting, of course For five years, Mom took
care of Dad 24/7. She had her moments when it looked like she would come unglued, but never
did. She had her days when it appeared like she wanted to scream at the top of her lungs, but
she refused to let that happen. Dad had given her a wonderful life, and she wanted to be there for
him "in sickness and in health".
Dad died on May 17th of 2008. Mom was so strong, so loving, and so dedicated to him and the entire family. I always appreciated my mother for what she had done for all of us, but she went to
a whole new level in all of our books for the way she took care of Dad through the tough times.
Mom never complained and after Dad was gone, she put even more of her energy into her kids
and grandchildren. She has always been there for my sister and brother when they want to take
their spouses out for a night or go on vacation. Mom is always there to help out in a pinch and
at a moment's notice. Pick up the grand kids, take them here, there, and everywhere across four counties in Connecticut. Mom has always been there for me through the tough times when my
world seemed to be falling apart. She has always been there for everyone of us.
She has never asked, "what about me?", even though she should. She has never asked for
anything but our unconditional love. That's it, that's all. Charlene Devlin is one amazing person.
I have to admit, this time of year is always tough for me. I mean, what do you get for a mother
who has everything, never wants anything, and anything you give her will never equal to what
she has given you.
Mom, all I can say is, "I love you." You are one amazing person and all of the Devlin's are
thankful that God blessed us with such a great mother.
Happy Mother's Day.