I’ve learned a lot from the mothers in my life, particularly my own mother, Wanda Sexton. But also both of my grandmothers, June Sexton and the late Sara Cooper, and even my aunt Doris Leathers, who always treated me, my brothers, and several of our cousins as the kids she never had. Recently, I’ve even learned a lesson or two from my mother in law, Vicky Hubbs.
The single greatest lesson I’ve learned from my own mom is unconditional love and to never give up. I’ve faced a lot of battles where she was one of few people that believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. She loved me even when I embarrassed the hell out of her and did things that she’ll disagree with to the day she dies. Sometimes, that love has meant she hid things from me that I’m only now realizing as an adult that she had hid from me. Such as how scared she must have been during the 1994 blizzard with no power, few blankets, and three small boys all day when dad was going into work. Or just how often she had to stand up for me in my various battles with the school system. Indeed, she was the one that taught me much of how I now fight my political battles at this very moment. She never showed fear, and she didn’t like it when her own pain was obvious – she still doesn’t. I found out she had cancer two days before she was having the operation done to remove it. She also taught me how to have a successful marriage, one that later this year will hit the 29 year mark, even though her own parents divorced when she was in her teens. She has been my rock throughout my life, and I could not be more thankful for her, nor more proud to call her my mom. I truly do love her with all my heart.
From June, I learned how to survive. I’m not going to throw out a lot of family business here, but suffice it to say that there are certain things about how my dad raised me that he had personal experience with growing up, and June bore the brunt of it even more than he did. She survived Hades on earth, and in my darkest times, she never let me give up. I deeply love her as well – though with no computer, she’ll never see this unless someone prints it out and shows it to her.
From Sara, I got an interesting dichotomy that I also see to a lesser extent in Vicky. Sara and my late grandfather, Will Waters, got divorced, like I mentioned earlier, in my mom’s teens, LONG before I came into the picture in 1983. Yet throughout my life, they always got along great, at least anytime I saw them together. Sara remarried to the man that I came to consider my second grandfather, JC Cooper, and was married to him for somewhere around 20 years that I have personal knowledge of before he died. She and JC actually lived, at various points, on the same land – or even in the same house- as Will. This showed me that even when most people would EXPECT you to not get along, civility and even friendship is still possible, which is a lesson I try to uphold today on the political scene and in the rest of my life. Sara died a little over two years ago, and my deepest regret is that the last time I was around her when she was alive, I was mad at her over something so inconsequential that I don’t even remember what it was now.
Doris is officially my aunt, but in reality she has always been a second mother. There’s a LOT that I can’t talk about here that she did for me and my family, but there are several things that I CAN point to. I took my first non-church or school related overnight trip away from my family with her, back in the summer of 2001 when I was 18 years old. We went to Orlando for a conference with the organization that would come to dominate the rest of my college years, but that I was just getting involved with at the time. She rented us a 2001 yellow Mustang GT convertible and let me drive it around all weekend. (Still my favorite car I’ve ever driven!) When I decided to leave the church I had grown up in, she was a member at the church my parents had been married in years before, and invited me to come join her there. I did, and I grew spiritually in ways I had not really grown before, nor unfortunately really have since. But that church was fairly pivotal in all that I have become now. In my late teen years and early twenties, she was the one that watched over me from a distance even when I couldn’t tell my parents what was going on. (Hey, I’ve always been much better at writing my feelings and letting people read them than actually talking about them – hence this post!) Truly, I love her nearly as much as I love my own mother.
The most recent addition to the mothers in my life is my mother in law, Vicky Hubbs. We haven’t faced near the battles together that the other mothers have shared with me, but I honestly love her still. She is such a kind, decent, loving woman. She will definitely be a great influence on my kids, and she’s been a great influence on my wife, the love of my life.
To all of the mothers in my life, Happy Mother’s Day!