It’s Mother’s Day Again

I was born on Mother’s Day, 1954. People always say “how sweet”, and I know in some ways it was, but I imagine it was something of an ordeal for my Mama. When we celebrate birthdays, we need to remember that our mom did all the work; we just showed up. (That’s why my favorite birthday greeting is “Way to go, YOUR MOM!”) But I digress… Every few years May the ninth falls on Mother’s Day, but it varies according to Leap Year. This year I am one day away, so I guess I will celebrate my birth along with all those amazing moms NEXT year…

When I was born in Wilford Hall at Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio, my dad was off training to fly jets, and my mother was in San Antonio caring for my 19 month old sister waiting to have me. Her parents helped I’m sure, but it must have been a lonely and vulnerable time for her. Growing up, she told me numerous times how close to death I was at birth, how I had been saved for a reason.

Today, as I sit in my home office avoiding the Corona virus, I am still reflecting upon what that reason might be. I was an RH baby, which today is a relatively minor blood disorder that can be treated in utero. It was apparently pretty major 66 years ago. I almost died at birth. To save me, they had to literally replace my blood with hers and transfuse her blood into me. My Mama always said that they told her I wasn’t going to make it more than once, but that I pulled through only by a miracle.

I also had a double hernia, along with some other issues, and what it added up to was a long, long Mother’s Day for Myrl. (Probably a long several days.) She was energetic and spunky, though, and we made it. Myrl Jean Zuercher was born in Waco in 1932, and was adopted by Fay and Emmett Zuercher. Emmett worked for Maverick-Clarke, and Fay’s family were prosperous merchants who owned Staffel’s Feed Stores. They adopted and raised two girls: Connie, who died in a car wreck at a tragically young age, and my mama Myrl.

Mother's Day

She was cute and vivacious, a cheerleader who was named Football Sweetheart for the Alamo Heights mules. Years later she could still get into her cheerleading uniform. She was nick-named “Speedy” in high school, and I was always told it was because she drove fast, but I think it was more because she was kinda “fast” and liked to party. She was artistic and funny and cute as a button.

Perhaps because Mama struggled with alcoholism, particularly later in life (she died from liver failure/psirrhosis in 1984), I have probably focused over the years too much on her demons and issues, and I used to think that she perhaps didn’t love me because there were times I couldn’t depend on her. A ten year old brain often doesn’t see much context, and of course I assumed that because she wasn’t always around, and I lived at my grandparents sometimes that I was the problem, and had not been good enough to make Mama love me. But I know now that she loved me deeply, and that she loved me the very best that she could.

Up until several years ago, I had never really given her credit for the many wonderful things she brought to my life– love and family, laughter and personality. She was almost 53 when she died, not long after holding our first daughter, and she left us too soon. I used to resent having to share my birthday with Mother’s Day every few years, but now I know it’s an honor. This year I am sharing my birthday with Covid-19, and not actual Mother’s Day, but I am thinking of you, Mama, and will raise a glass of wine (yes, I have put those demons far behind) not just in your memory but in your honor.

Back in the day, when my dad was off flying jets and you were in the military hospital alone, you went through a lot of stress for me and because of me, and I am thankful. I am surrounded by beautiful, caring Moms in my family, and they are part of your legacy because they are part of my life. My sister is a loving mom and grandmother; my wife and daughters and daughter-in-law are wonderful, caring Moms who share your sense of fun and zest for life. I often feel your presence in them just as I also see it reflected back at me when I look in the mirror. I am so much like you, and I’m grateful for that. This Mother’s Day, may you rest as peacefully as the South Texas hill country, where birds sing, gentle breezes blow, and the pace is soothingly slow. I hope to see you again.

To all you wonderful Moms out there, happy Mother’s Day! May God bless you richly with love and laughter, and may your kids be as good as you taught them to be.

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