“Grief is the price we pay for love.” – Queen Elizabeth II
Here we are. Mother’s Day weekend. There is no way to express how I feel about this holiday. I just know my Mother always chose to celebrate me more than she would ever let me celebrate her. She made the weekend far more special for me than I ever could for her. So, if I could thank her for anything this weekend, it would be for all the very special “Judy King” love she gave me for 35 years. My earliest memory has to be when I was about 4. I have always wanted to give Mother a list of memories in a special way. My goal last Mother’s Day was to attach a picture or some sort of object to each memory, but I was never able to get it done. This year, I feel the need to still make the list. So, starting with one of my first memories, here it goes:
1980 – 4 years old – On our way to First Baptist Preschool, Mom and I would ride in her white VW bug. I can still smell the black leather. I can still see her change the gears. The entire way to school, we would sing silly songs together. One song I remember singing was “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”, Mr. Rogers theme song. I can still hear her singing harmony with me at the end.
1981 – 5 years old – My first year of Kindergarten! I only went a half day to Kindergarten so Mom would pick me up around lunch time every day. Normally, I would go to a babysitter until she finished work (at Easley Presbyterian Church). My favorite memories include getting to go with her to the church instead of to the babysitter. She would let me play with her typewriter, and I thought that was the neatest thing! Of course, my childhood friend, Valerie Dyches was there too. Mom’s friendship with Lynne Dyches gave me one of the most precious friendships I have ever known to this day.
1982 – 6 years old – First Grade – My hair was long. I loved when Mom would braid it or pull it up for me. Hair and make-up were a big deal. I remember Mom letting me pretend to “do her hair” and put on her make-up for her. I thought she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I still think that.
1983 – 7 years old – Second Grade – Lunchbox notes. I remember getting them in second grade. I lived for opening up that lunchbox and reading her messages. Sometimes it was written on the napkin and sometimes it was on paper. I can still smell the ham sandwich that was in that strawberry shortcake tin lunchbox.
1984 – 8 years old – Third Grade – Glasses. Mom knew I was scared to wear glasses to school so she got me some really cool strawberry shortcake glasses. (They were not pink. Strawberry Shortcake logo was just on the side.) I remember being nervous about wearing them to school. Mom gave me a pep talk and showed me her glasses. Her glasses were gigantic, white, Liz Claiborne glasses. They were awesome. I was always proud to wear my glasses after that talk with her.
1985 – 9 years old – Fourth Grade – New School. EVERYBODY knew Mother (or at least it seemed). That was always a comfort to me. My new school was a scary place and when we arrived and found out who my teacher was (Dibbie Chapman), of course they hugged, and I was destined to be loved just because my last name was King. That was one fantastic feeling.
1986 – 10 years old – Fifth Grade I am going to tell on myself. This is the year of my first big lie (that I remember). I had a book report due. I did not read the book. I made up the book report. Clearly, I did a horrible job because when Mother proofread it, she saw some misspelled names. When she went to check the names in the book, they were not there!!! The disappointment in her face made me sick to my stomach. My punishment… stay up and read the book. I remember staying up extremely late for a school night. When I finished, Mom was still up too. She made me re-write the report and stayed up with me to help me proof it. I remember sobbing the whole night. But the best memory I have is her hugging me (way after midnight) and telling me she loved me even when I disappointed her.
1987 – 11 years old – Sixth Grade Science Project – Jellyfish – For some reason, I had to write a report on jellyfish. That’s it. But Mom (and Daddy) always wanted me to go above and beyond the assignment. Daddy helped me create the jellyfish out of clay and yarn. Mother was working at the fire department then. She took me up there and someone helped us glaze the jellyfish with the coolest stuff I had ever seen. I wish I had a picture of it. I was the talk of the classroom when I brought that model in for everyone. It took a lot of time to make, but I am so thankful they always took time to help me go beyond expectations.
1988 – 12 years old – Seventh Grade From this moment on, I was extremely thankful for a Mother who cared about clothes. I am sure she sacrificed clothes for herself so I could have the nicest ones. Sebagos, the modern day sperry. I desperately wanted a pair. Mom thought they looked like “Grandma Moses shoes”. I knew they cost a lot as well. But, in grand Judy style, she came home with her Belk bag and brought them to me. I am pretty sure I screamed and hugged her for a very long time. I knew it was a sacrifice for her to buy those. I remember telling her we could take them back if she didn’t like them. She kissed me on my forehead and told me how great they looked on me.
1989 – 13 years old – Every birthday was special, but this one was extra special. Mom picked out a new jewelry box and had a new ring with my birthstone in it for me. Everything about this day was definitely “big girl” stuff.
1990 – 14 years old – 9th Grade I wrote a paper on how I wanted to be the first female president. The paper was to be presented to the class. Mom loved it and took me shopping to buy the perfect red, white, and blue outfit to wear for my presentation.
1991 – 15 years old – 10th Grade Permit!! (enough said)
1992 – 16 years old – 11th Grade Mom and Dad took me to buy my first car. I think she was more proud of it than I was. My light blue Honda Accord is still my favorite car I have ever had.
1993– 17 years old – Piano and voice recitals were yearly events since 1st Grade. This one stands out in my mind the most. I sang “On My Own” and I saw my Mother weep while I sang. I knew they were not tears of sadness, but tears of pride and love.
1994 – 18 years old – I remember Mom taking care of her Mother so much this year. My Grandmother had alzheimers and Mom always made sure she had the best care.
1995 – 19 years old – Mom’s first breast cancer diagnosis. She had to take 35 radiation treatments. She was scared. She figured out in the time she could recite Psalm 23, the treatment would be over. It gives me comfort thinking of her reciting this passage.
1996 – 20 years old – The year I met Darian. Mom told me from the start…. He’s a keeper. She even invited him to our Christmas dinner before we were officially a couple. I was mortified, but now I am so grateful she did.
1997 – 21 years old – My Senior Piano Recital. Mother worked so hard to make it so very special. The invitations were perfect. The reception was more than I could have ever imagined. And the look in her eyes when I finished was worth a million dollars. I remember hugging her when everyone left. She was clammy and hot from working so hard at the reception. She always stood in the background and quietly cheered me on.
1998 – 22 years old – Wedding plans started. She was amazing.
1999 – 23 years old – The afternoon of our wedding was so special. Mom and I went to a brunch then came home to rest. All 3 of us just stood in my room discussing the events of the day. Mom and I fell asleep talking, and I remember thinking that was the perfect way to end one chapter in my life and begin another.
2000 – 24 years old – Mother helped me decorate our first apartment. Our neighbors kept asking if they could pay her to decorate their apartment.
2001 – 25 years old – Mother, Libby, and I went to lunch for my birthday. We went to Mary’s Cottage, and I realized that day what a strong family bond we had.
2002 – 26 years old – I watched my Mother grieve the death of my Grandmother. I understand that pain all too well now. I had no idea the void she probably felt.
2003 – 27 years old – Mom faced her fear of heights and made it to the 6th floor of Greenville Hospital. Nothing was going to keep her away from the arrival of William Bennett.
2004 – 28 years old – I quit teaching at a school I loved in Greenville so I could be in Easley and be closer to Will. The transition was extremely hard. I cried a lot. Mom was always there to offer support and encouragement. She cheered me on and helped me realize it was one of the best choices I have ever made.
2005 – 29 years old – We bought our home on Huntington Road. We moved in one afternoon, and within 24 hours, Judy King had all prints on the wall and fresh hydrangeas in vases scattered throughout the house.
2006 – 30 years old – Darian graduated from Clemson with his Masters, and Mom was so proud. She loved telling people he was her son-in-law.
2007 – 31 years old – I remember Mom telling me the story of how she and Daddy had a hard time conceiving. She recalled how much they prayed for a child. She knew we were ready for another baby. I still love hearing people at church tell me how they met in a prayer room to “pray me into this world”.
2008 – 32 years old – I called Mom at 2am on October 23. I was in labor with Charlotte. I have never been happier to see her arrive at my door. She kept Will and they all came to meet Charlotte the next day. Of course, Mom arrived with monogrammed bib and gown in hand.
2009 – 33 years old – Mother and I sat in a small room together in Patewood Hospital. We were told she had breast cancer again. We were both in such shock. She called Daddy (who did not go because we were all certain everything would be fine) and I realized then that he provided a comfort for her that was overwhelming.
2010 – 34 years old – Mom picked out a house at Kiawah Island and we all spent a week together. That was one of the happiest weeks of her life.
2011 – 35 years old – Schedules were tight this summer, but Mom was emphatic about all of us going to the beach. We could only fit a few days in together, but I knew it was important to her. NOW, I am so thankful for those memories.
2012 – March 15 – My very weak Mother (with barely an audible voice) looked at me and said, “You have so many people who love you. They will take good care of you.” She assured me she was “okay”. I hugged her, loved on her, and knew it was a moment I would never forget. Just when the emotion was more than I could bear, she said “Now get off my arm, you’re hurting me.” We both laughed and I was thankful for the break in emotion. Mother passed away that next day (March 16), and I knew in my heart she had a peace about leaving us here without her.
So Mom, if there is internet in heaven, and you can read all of this. . . THANK YOU! Thank you for loving me in your special, “Judy King” way. We miss you so much, and things will never be the same. I cherish these memories and cling to them all, especially now. We talk about you all the time. Charlotte acts so much like you. She talks about you wearing princess shoes while dancing in “your castle”. Will knows when I miss you most because he looks at me and asks if I am okay. Daddy (as well as many friends) have bought the children clothes – no worries there. My heart aches, and I am so homesick to see you. Until then, please know I love you deeper today than I ever have. Thank you for loving me in your very special way.
Happy Mother’s Day . . . Amy