Happy Mother’s Day Mom
Uniquelahoma is primarily about unique and special people, ones who make the state a better place. This week, I thought I would write about the most unique and special person I know. She goes by many names to different people, but I just call her mom. She is a representation for all the wonderful mothers in our state who have made tremendous sacrifices for the children they love.
Her legal name is Sammie Dennison-Harmon, and she has graced this world since 1942. A friend and I shared a laugh recently about this article when he asked if I was going to interview her. “What? What the hell for.” I asked. “I already know everything I need to know about her,” I said. Without a doubt, my mother is an open book. I thought with Mother’s Day right around the corner, it’s a great time for all of you to get to know her too. Obviously, I cannot tell you everything about her so I will just hit some of the highlights.
Three is Not Enough
She is a mother of four. What makes this interesting I think is that her and my father had twins with their first pregnancy. A boy and a girl, the best of both worlds, right? Instant family right out of the gate with a child of both sexes seemed perfect…and complete. Wrong! Not for my mom. She told my father that there was someone missing, so back to the drawing board if you will, they went. Fortunately for me, they did, or someone else would be writing this article. Still though after me, she knew her family was not complete. With little money and struggling financially with a family of five, my mom knew she would know when it was finished…and it wasn’t finished. Two years later my younger brother made his way into this world. She knew then that everyone was now home where they were supposed to be.
Fast forward a few years, and there is a struggling business, four kids ranging in ages from four to eight and chaos that cannot be described accurately with any words in the English language. Amid the chaos though, there was always time for a soothing word, a kiss on the forehead and love pat for each ouchy. There was always time to run by the store for penny candy or to bake cupcakes. There was always time to listen to a child’s problem even with greater adult problems looming just overhead. What there always was it seems, is time for others…and that is the greatest of gifts anyone can give.
Hell on Wheels
It was the seventies, and my mom wore the hideous pant suits with the circles and arrows, smoked Kent cigarettes, chewed Juicy fruit gum and drank Pepsi while listening to the solid gold Country from the AM radio. She was a force to be reckoned with, a tornado that blew in every direction, a superhero with seemingly unlimited energy. In a Volkswagen Microbus without working air-conditioning and with six to seven kids (She often watched nieces, nephews, and a friend’s son), she was running errands, buying groceries, dodging traffic, settling arguments between kids who were not confined to seat belts and finding her way to the next stop without GPS. Mom didn’t need GPS because she had GSD aka Get Sh*t Done.
As my siblings and I got older and began activities in school, mom was there to make sure we made the practices, Cub Scout meetings, field trips and had the equipment, sack lunches, and uniforms even though money was often in short supply in those days. And, like any good mama bear, she was in that office with any teacher or principal who thought they were superior to those whom they taught. They quickly realized that hell hath no fury like my mother when her children were called out unfairly. If had been fairly, however, then there was a whole different kind of hell awaiting us at home. I call my mom’s parenting philosophy ‘Justice tempered with just enough mercy.’ In other words, “I love you so much that I will slap you into next week if you do that again. Now come on, I baked cookies.”
Then there were the eighties with four teens who enjoyed a good time. I will just leave it at that and plead the fifth on the details. I am sure my siblings appreciate this. She always trusted us and also allowed us to make our own mistakes with a freedom that I now know as a parent, must have been extremely difficult. She believed in our ability to make responsible decisions and loved us unconditionally even when we made a choice that may not have been the best one. She knew when to hold on and when to let go. Any good parent knows that this is much easier said than done.
Left Is Right, Right Is Wrong
My mom has always lived in a backward world. AS a lefty in a right-handed world, everything seemed a bit more difficult for her than the rest of us. I think this was God’s way of giving her the patience and understanding to help others through their difficulties. Who better to understand the frustration of life’s difficulties than someone who has battled them naturally all of their lives in a world that is backward to them? When things are easy for us, I think it limits our patience with others. But my mom had always had the patience and willingness to listen when others needed to be heard and help out when it was warranted. There have been countless times in my life when she knew just the right thing to say, to do, and the right advice to offer. I know my siblings would agree.
A mother has the power to create a happy or a miserable childhood for her children. They are the most powerful force in a child’s life. It is the greatest responsibility on earth. I cannot imagine a better childhood than the one she gave me. I still remember waiting with my siblings on the driveway of my parent’s body shop, counting cars on the highway eagerly awaiting her arrival home from a day chasing parts, tending to her parent’s needs, buying groceries in bulk and whatever other selfless acts she was performing for someone else. Only then to see her step, frazzled and tired, out of that truck without air-conditioning or power steering into the summer evenings with a rare treat of coneys from Coney-Island.
One In A Million
There is not one particular large event that I can recall that I would say defined my childhood. What I can say with all certainty though, is that there were a million small ones that came in all shapes, sizes, and forms that define me to this day. I know my mom would say that there are three large events in her life that define here, each of those being a birthday of her four children. I could write for hours about this woman who has always put others before herself. I could tell stories about how she accepted our high school friends as her own, and they still are considered family. I could go on about this woman who never stops extending her family by always inviting others to be a part of it. I can even ramble about this woman who taught me that forgiveness is a gift I give myself. Or…I can simply say that this woman is one of the most unique people to have ever graced Oklahoma and the people in it she calls family.