I know many people think they have the world's best mom, but I'm sure I do. Today is her birthday and I want her, and everyone who visits my blog, to know how much I love her.
Today could easily be a sad day of remembering my mom. In 1986 she was in a terrible car accident. Her seat belt held her for the first impact and then gave way, allowing her to slip down into the protective space created by the dash board crumbling. She miraculously survived, and while she was in and out of the hospital for the various therapies, someone suggested that she should have a mammogram while she was there (it had been a while). They discovered cancer and in the months that followed she had a lot of time to reflect on priorities.
I didn't get married until 1989, and we didn't have our first child until 1994. Her first grandchild. And as she helped this new-mom turn into the mom I am today, my mom was patient, kind, loving, supportive and always available. If there's anything good about my mothering, it is because she has always led by example.
She has led us in other ways. She grew up in a town in Arkansas during the days of Jim Crow and segregation. The first time she experienced any kind of integration was as a young Army wife. It wasn't always comfortable, and it wasn't always easy being an Army wife in the 60's, but she always modeled patience and kindness. Any biases she had grown up with were NOT conveyed to us, and as she experience more of the world, she allowed the Lord to open her eyes about people just being people.
She was tremendously athletic and unfortunately for her, born before Title IX, so her opportunities to play sports at a higher level were cut short in school. But in her 30's, she discovered tennis in a big way, and that has been one of the guiding forces of her life. Not the "tennis club" kind of player who is all about the cute outfits and the social ranking. She plays for real and takes no prisoners. Long before Lance Armstrong, my mom's motto was "Go strong or go home."
She led in other ways. I can't remember a time that my mom wasn't volunteering for something. When we were little she was active with our schools, girl scouts, Red Cross and Army Community Service. She took us to church (chapel on base) where she sang in the choir. She was always involved with Vacation Bible School and even during our difficult high school years, she was the force that held the family together.
She is now over seventy but you wouldn't know it. Several years ago she decided that one of the ways in which she wanted to bless others was to start a wheelchair tennis team. Now mind you, my mom is able bodied. She doesn't use a wheelchair. There was no personal gain in her doing this. And she was in El Paso, Texas, not exactly a hotbed of activism in valuing the disabled. Since she didn't know that 'people don't do this kind of thing', she did it anyway. She recruited players and cadged court time and put together a program that has made El Paso, Texas KNOWN among wheelchair tennis players. She does it on a shoestring, often using her own funds, and encourages all of the athletes to be more than just tennis players, but to play life like they mean it. She also coaches Special Olympics tennis in El Paso.
With some of her Special Olympics players
Mom is on the far right, standing.
I could go on and on and tell you fabulous things about my mom. Like she was the best scary storyteller around campfires at Girl Scout Camp, like she used to stand at the door and watch the weather move across the Kansas sky -- while the tornado sirens were blaring, like she has gone into the Public Schools in El Paso to teach tennis to kids other people had given up on. She has been recognized by her peers in the tennis world, which you can see here.
She inspires me, she awes me, she loves me, she ferociously loves my kids, and if I can ever be one tenth the woman my mom is, I will feel I have accomplished something great.
So Happy Birthday Linda Cobbs. You're an extraordinary woman. May you live many more years to inspire more young women to reach for their dreams.