THEY SAY A PICTURE IS WORTH 1,000 WORDS. SO WHAT’S IT WORTH WHEN YOU COMBINE A BEAUTIFUL PHOTOGRAPH WITH WRITTEN SENTIMENTS ABOUT ONE’S MOTHER AND HOW YOU SEE HER? WE ASKED FIVE OF OUR EXTOL STAFFERS TO ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE AND THINK YOU’LL AGREE THEIR RESPONSES ARE PRICELESS.
I see her like this: surrounded by babies, laughing, full of love and adoration and patience. Six of her own, then grandkids, and in each one of them, of us, she shares herself, her love, her hopes and worries, dreaming of the future, praying, loving unconditionally. I have been really fortunate for a lot of reasons, but especially to most recently have tiny babies in my life, including my new Goddaughter, Olive. I think of my mom when I look into those sweet faces. I get overwhelmed with emotion, laughter, amazement. I fear for them in the world sometimes, yet I’m excited for the possibilities. I want everything for them. I want to protect them and hold them close. I want to be there for all of it. I think that Mom had the same thoughts about us and her grandkids, looking into our faces, holding us close. I see her like this. I also see her love and devotion to our father in his years of declining health and death, and I wonder if I would have her strength. I am reminded constantly of her and Dad’s devotion and love for each other – and for us. That love is evident in my brothers and sisters, in their laughter, in the way they care for their kids, and the way they care for me and my husband, Jon, and each other. When I think of her, I see Mom surrounded by us as kids, six of us, and I wonder how the house was immaculate, the meals were prepared and we were where we needed to be. Right now, as I write this, I am holding this tiny person and getting nothing done because all I can do is stare into that sweet face and memorize everything. And I see Mom like this, loving all of us, looking into our baby faces, and for a few moments getting nothing done, and it’s the most wonderful thing.
Maybe it’s because her maiden name is Burd. Or maybe it’s because of all the animal shows – like Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom – we watched as a family. Or maybe it’s because she’s had pet cats all her adult life. Or maybe it’s just because she’s a gentle, caring soul. Whatever the reason, my mom is a committed animal lover and activist, and I love her dearly for it. This photo was taken by me while on a week-long cruise to the Caribbean with my parents last year. It’s no exaggeration to say this moment was likely the highlight of the trip for her. Animals seem to sense animal lovers and instinctively flock to them. Nearly every bird in this cage went straight to my mom, much to her delight and the chagrin of the other visitors also hoping to feed them. It’s anyone’s guess how many animal welfare and rights groups my mom supports financially and in other ways. She literally keeps stacks and stacks of their mailers and takes them with her on vacation to meticulously sort through, read and respond to. It’s time-consuming and sometimes frustrating for Dad, but it’s a labor of love. She has nurtured a commitment to animal and environmental causes in me as well. We both ache with every inhumane story we hear and sign every petition that comes our way. Her compassion for the other creatures who call this planet home is contagious. For me, it’s her greatest legacy.
I chose this photo of my mom, Kelly, and my dad, Paul, because I think it perfectly displays the fun and loving nature of her personality. She shows positivity all the time, even on the bad days. I snapped this photo while she was looking at a birthday card alongside my dad. The expression they show makes this my favorite photo of my mom. I’m not sure what we would do without her.
Biggest cheerleader, best friend, chauffeur, tailor, fashion critic – the list could go on for days. Of all the words used to describe her, the one that works the best is simply Mom. Calling her Mom encapsulates everything one could imagine. My Mom has done more for me than I’ll ever be able to describe or ever wish to repay. I just hope she knows that she’s raised more than just a son; she made me a better human being. When she came to me to have her photograph taken, I realized the need to spend more time capturing her wonderful personality. The same personality she blessed me with. I own a photography studio and rarely take her photo. (I know that’s terrible. I will do better.) Thanks, Mom, for being my mom.
First, my mother does not like to be photographed. Second, my mom always was a great place to go whenever I needed a hug to make any problem seem not so big. I see my mom as a rock. Not a cold, hard stone, but a soft, warm-hearted rock – if there ever was one. In my younger years, when I was in college, I did not handle the stress of deadlines all that well. Even from 170 miles away, she could help me take a step back and realize whatever was to come was going to come regardless and just do the best job I can. It’s a lesson I have carried with me and still helps me everyday. I love you, Mom!