Dear Darla Rae Henson Grimm (a.k.a. Mom),
Some thanks are in order.
Thanks for getting me hooked on coffee. Yup, I’m pretty sure that’s on you. Probably a little too early, but I’m none the worse for wear. In fact, one of the best parts of my day is hunting down a good cup ‘o joe. (It’s never as good as yours, though— Starbucks can‘t hold a candle to “Dar-bucks.”)
Thanks for teaching me not to take myself too seriously. If I had to pinpoint when that happened, I’d say it was April Fool’s Day of my first grade year, when you served me foam-rubber pancakes for breakfast. I sawed and sawed at those abominable things, not saying a word for fear of hurting your feelings… while you snickered in the corner. You showed me the calendar and followed it up a big hug. And real pancakes.
Thanks for teaching me how to drive. Sure, maybe you forgot to tell me to throw it in reverse or put the clutch in… and maybe I did go straight through the back wall of the garage… but everything was smooth sailing after that. Once you’ve nearly demolished a building, it gets much easier. By the way, I’m an excellent driver now (but I do park on the street).
Thanks for letting me take over your portable black-and-white TV with my Atari 7800 when Dad couldn’t figure out how to connect it to the living room set. Pole Position still looked great on a 5” screen.
Thanks for giving me a love of reading. Those countless Saturday trips to the library cemented an appreciation for the printed word I’ll never shake. Whenever I walk into a room full of books, or even just smell paper and ink, I think of you. E-books may be infinitely more convenient, but turning actual pages reminds me of those days. (I’ve even forgiven you for throwing away all my old comic books.)
Thanks for making me join junior high choir. I would’ve never done it on my own. I had little interest in music, but you knew better. Without the nudge, I might not have developed a passion for singing that later became a vehicle for worship. My life might be totally different.
Thanks for watching scary movies with me. I knew about Frankenstein and Dracula and the Wolf Man looooong before most little kids. That’s okay. By today’s standards, the old Universal black-and-whites are pretty tame, and honestly, those flicks probably gave me a heightened imagination and love for creative storytelling.
Thanks for making me sit at the kitchen table until I ate my brussel sprouts. I hated those things with every fiber of my being, yet for you, this was a hill worth dying on. You weren’t going to raise a picky eater. Some things get better with age. Brussel sprouts only get more cold, bitter and rubbery. I remember finally choking them down and heading off to bed. I glad I took on the veggie gauntlet. And today… guess what? I’m still not crazy about brussel sprouts. But I don’t hate them.
Speaking of the kitchen table, thanks for all your amazing dinners (brussel sprouts notwithstanding). You had a knack for concocting an incredible meal when we had next to nothing in the cabinet. Of course, you promptly forgot how you made it, but that just meant each dinner was one of a kind. Like you.
And further speaking of the kitchen table… thanks for all those late-night, frank and honest conversations during high school. Whatever the topic—girls, school, girls, life goals, girls, ambitions, girls, spirtual questions, girls… I always had a clearer picture after we talked. Not every mom is up for that level of discussion. You were never too faint of heart. Not Darla.
Thanks for never letting me get away with being a smart aleck. You were long-suffering, but you had your limits. I am more respectful because you kicked me in the pants when I got out of line.
Thanks for teaching me about identity. “Remember who you are,” you’d always say when I left the house. In other words, don’t forget who you represent, who loves you, who made you and what He made you for.
Thanks for helping me make it to college. I couldn’t have done it without you. I’d been working at the warehouse for over a year, and you knew that I was meant to continue my education. If you hadn’t done all that legwork on grants, student loans and acceptance rigmarole, I’d have been spinning my wheels. But we made it. And my life is radically better for it.
Thanks for being a prayer warrior. There’s one instance in particular… I remember when I first met Deanna. You called me in California, and as any dutiful mother would, asked about the new girl. “She’s great, Mom… but she’s got a boyfriend.” “Well,” you said, “we’ll just pray him out of there.” And you did.
Incidentally, I have such a phenomenal wife because having a great mom means you never settle for less.
Thanks for being our family’s moral compass. Thanks for throwing yourself so fully into the ministry of our church. Thanks for being there for Dad, through all the hurdles of the pastorate. Thanks for trudging on, through hot summers in the south and harsh winters in the north. Thanks for being a mom to far more than just your own flesh and blood. Thanks for modeling diligence by staying up late on Saturday night preparing for your Sunday School lesson, for driving kids to wrestling practice, soccer practice, football practice, play practice, piano lessons, and debate tournaments. Thanks for being on hand every time a dose of wisdom was necessary (which was always). Thanks for exuding Jesus in everything you do.
My siblings and I are immensely blessed to have grown up in Darla’s house. I have a bunch of friends who wish they’d grown up in your house too, and truth is, some of them did.
I love you, Mom. Thanks.