Whew. We just did a whirl-wind tour of Dallas. 900 miles in 30 hours! I mentioned in my last post about some of my inner formation that were shaped by my father. This wouldn't be complete without mentioning my mom, Linda. She raised the three of us pretty much by herself, and there's a lot of me that I owe to her, too. There's no way to "capture" Linda Bishop with words. She's a woman that you just need to meet.
My mom is the 6th of 7 kids. A native of Ohio, she has retained much of her "Yankee-ness." I know that our family up north thinks we talk like Texans, you can tell my mom is a transplant. From her fake whistle (she yells, "Fwee-oh-Fweet.") to making creole burgers, much of her life growing up made it into our lives.
Her life has been pretty amazing. She's been a physicians assistant, a dance instructor, a collections specialist, a baseball/softball coach, our PTA room mother, Santa Clause, and a myriad of other things. With my dad's absence during my childhood, mom often played both roles, and did so remarkably well; like one of those successful movie moms in the after school specials. I remember once, when my dad had quit coaching my little-league baseball team, The Cubs, mom took over. During batting practice, we beat her shins black-and-blue! She would play Santa Clause for our school classes, and we never knew it was her. An amazing woman.
She is a lady with a huge heart. When we were growing up, she would not let us have a dog. We thought it was because she hated dogs. It turns out, it's because she has a huge heart. She didn't want to have to deal with a dog dying, or explaining it to us, or the other myriad things that could happen with a dog. Her love of people and her heart would cost her lunch most days. As she went to work in Dallas each morning, she would hand her lunch to the homeless guy at the corner by her work. She didn't have money to give him, but what she had, she gave. She's always been a giver. I learned to think of others because of her.
When my dad left in 1984, she went back to work trying to make ends meet for us. A single woman working a minimum wage job to pay for our large house, swimming pool, and refinanced vehicles, my mom never gave up or gave in. She is tenacious. To this day, she's tenacious. And, as with anyone, that's good and bad. Thinking about what she instilled in me, this tenacity always comes to mind. She modeled for me what it means to take charge and get after it. Many of you who know me and her will recognize this. It's something I love about watching her live life. No excuses, no whining, just get the job done. But, it's also something that keeps us from asking for help, admitting when we're wrong, or graciously losing an argument! And all of you who know me will recognize that!
Something else she taught me was to give my all, and when that runs out, give some more. My mom was the neighborhood "flop house" mom when I was a teenager. There were numbers of kids who lived with us as alternatives to running away. I could name at least ten people who lived with my mom at some point because they had nowhere else to go. Even though we didn't have enough food, or the A/C wasn't working, or whatever the crisis was at the Bishop home, there was always room for more people! I learned that it's important to take care of one another inspite of a lack of resources. The flip side is that I've been burned a couple of times by people close to me who knew I would bail them out. It leads to cynicism and a little bit of jading, but we keep giving.
My mom introduced me to Monty Python. Some of you may be asking, "Who's he?" "He" is one of the greatest comedy troops to ever perform. As a little boy, I would watch "The Holy Grail" with her, and listen to her lament the fact that she always fell asleep just after the french taunting when they catapult the cow over the wall. She is a woman of great humor and quick wit. I owe that to her, too. And, as you can imagine, that has gotten both of us into trouble a time or two.
I never have wondered if mom was proud of me. I've always known that she is, regardless of what I'm doing. I remember calling her from camp one year while I was in college. I was a yell-leader and was learning to do gymnastics. I called her the night that I did my first tumbling run; a round-off, back handspring, full back. I was jazzed. When I told her what I was doing, and what I was learning, I asked her if she was surprised. He response was, "No, you've always been able to do whatever you set your mind to. The only thing that ever surprised me was you becoming a minister."
She drove to my college graduation. She drove to my grad-school graduation. She acted handicapped at my high school orientation. She has a love of life, a great sense of humor, and a huge heart. Ultimately, whenever I've needed her, she's always there. She doesn't have much, and there are others in her life that need her greatly, but if I ever have need, I know she's there. Mom, if you're reading this: Thanks. For all you do, and all you've instilled in me, thank you. I couldn't be the man I am today without you. You've always been there for me. I love you.
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