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.


Happy Mothers Day MOM!

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