Kirsten Mustain

Waxing sentimental

May is one of my favorite times of year.

All the brightest colors appear in May.

My annuals are planted, my roses and peonies are on the verge of bursting, and the birds – oh my, the birds! The goldfinches have shed drab olive green for bright yellow. The rose-breasted grosbeaks have returned. The indigo buntings are plentiful. And the Baltimore orioles are back for a brief visit on their way to exotic climes – resplendent in bright orange and black.

At this magical time, when spring is in full swing and summer has yet to swelter, it is appropriate that we pay homage to the ones who gave us life.

This weekend millions of children, from kindergarten students to retired adults, will present their mothers with boxes of chocolate, diamond jewelry, Hallmark cards, homemade art projects, flowers, music boxes – all manner of tokens designed to express appreciation to the special moms who brought them into the world.

Every year I try to think of something I can give my mother – something that will truly express what I feel for her and how thankful I am that she is the person who gave me life and taught me how to live it. So far I have fallen short.

It’s a tall order. And there isn’t a diamond necklace, an emerald ring, or a Rolex watch on earth that is worth a fraction of what she has given me, even if I could afford such baubles.

But the truth is, it doesn’t matter what I give my mother. She is the sort of person who is glad simply because the gift came from me. I know there are lots of people in the world who will say that, and maybe some of them mean it, but my mother really does feel that way. That’s the kind of person she is.

I didn’t always know what I had

Once upon a time, when I was a rebellious teenager (we have all been there – knowing nothing and thinking we know everything) all I could see was the raw deal the world had dealt me.

This was a complete misconception. I have actually been very fortunate.

A good example of my complete lack of wisdom at 15 is the time when I was walking with my Auntie Eileen in a field full of grasshoppers and one jumped into my sandal. When I stepped down I crushed it under my bare heel.

“Ick!”  I shrieked.  “This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me!”

Auntie Eileen chuckled, “Honey, if that’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you, you are leading a charmed life.”

Of course, it wasn’t the worst thing by a long shot, but at the time I really believed it was and I was hurt at Auntie Eileen’s incredible insensitivity.

I didn’t understand what an absolute jewel my mother was, either, back then. She is, I believe, the chief blessing in my fortunate life.

Mom had three children altogether, strong personalities every one. And it may be a bit of an understatement to say we were difficult. (For the record, I wasn’t the most difficult of the three, but I wasn’t the least difficult either.)

But, three of the virtues my mom exemplifies are graciousness, patience, and kindness. And even though she sometimes felt the need to crack the whip and bring us back into line, she never mistreated us.

No matter what we did, she loved us with a steadfast strength that carried through the hardest times.

That was my mother’s guarantee – that she would always be there and recognize our talents and good qualities and love us, no matter what anyone else thought.

If I were a serial killer, my mother would love me anyway. And maybe that’s one of the reasons why I’m not.

The great lady


When I was growing up, my mother’s focus was always on her children.

She was the proverbial Supermom, because even though she spent long hours at work, she always had time to sooth our wounds, cook beautiful meals, and give us good advice.

Her accomplishments at work and in her community went largely unnoticed by those of us whom she was raising.

I just want to say now, in this public forum, that I am very proud of my mother. She is truly a great lady.

Her steady and intelligent influence has not only helped her children to become decent human beings, it has left an indelible mark on the communities she served.

She worked for many years as a library director and community leader in Colorado, and recently she retired and moved back to the old family farm place in Afton.

When she retired from the library, tears were shed, speeches were made, and bronze plaques were hung in her honor.

She is petite, good-natured, and lovely, and she has the kind of smile that draws people to her. She is also accomplished and erudite. And, (much like Guy’s grandmother) she is almost never still. She must have a project, and when she doesn’t, you will find her traveling.

This week she will be in Washington D.C., visiting her beloved niece with Auntie Eileen and taking in the sights.

I daresay the whole family is happy to have her back. They must be, because they monopolize so much of her time that I barely get to see her.

Mom, I love you.

Can we have lunch sometime when you get back from D.C.?