I lost my mother five years ago.
It’s OK, really. I loved her and miss her, but I’ve moved on. So has my dad. He went and got me and my brothers a new mom about four years ago, and boy did he pick a winner!
Barbara is my step-mother, which is a title I really don’t like to use. She’s my mom now and I love her dearly. The whole family does. She has made an immediate and lasting impact on the family that we are grateful for. The change she has made in my dad is beyond incredible.
For starters, despite her cooking like a gourmet chef, she got my dad to lose more than 100 pounds! I haven’t seen him this trim since the days before disco. The physical transformation doesn’t stop there. Dad has a gleam in his eyes and a countenance we’ve not seen since before my mother got sick in 2000.
Since marrying Barbara, Dad has become a new man. Although he’s always been a believer, he now lives a life passionately after his faith in Christ. I’ve heard him lead more prayers in the last four years than I have in the previous 50 combined, and we live 1,000 miles apart! Not only that, but they’ve become globetrotters. I think they’ve been to every continent outside of Antarctica, Australia, and Africa and they’ve been pretty close to each of them. This is the same man who rarely took his family anyplace outside of visits to grandparents in California and Nebraska.
This man who scrimped and penny-pinched my whole life now relishes going out and spending my inheritance. Thanks to Barbara, Dad has experienced more life and seen more of the world than he ever dreamed of. They’ve become incredibly engaged in family and spend a lot of time with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
When Dad got sick last fall, Barbara went into full nurse/caretaker mode and led him through one of the most difficult chapters of his life. She has kept us updated on his progress through texts and phone calls and has him back in excellent health. She is also very tech savvy for one of her generation and we regularly interact with her on Facebook.
Barbara is a real dynamo and someone I feel very fortunate to have in my life. As long as I’m talking about mothers, there are two more I’d like to mention. The first is my wife, who is the proud mother of my three sons and step-mother to my daughter. Sandy continues to rock my world! Although we’ve had more than our fair share of struggles in 19 years, she has persevered and thrived.
In that time, I’ve seen her earn her bachelor’s degree in business administration and her master’s degree in health care administration all while working full time, and sometimes working more than one job. She has been active in Boy Scouts and is not only Wood Badge trained, but she is also a Wood Badge instructor and a former Cubmaster.
She is a very godly woman who is committed to her faith and very active in our church. She is also very much in charge of our family. Sandy is the one who keeps the books, pays the bills, cooks many of the meals, makes sure kids get where they need to be, manages the master schedule, and knows where every “missing” thing is or should be.
Throughout all of this, she has also developed and written a healthcare plan, which is something she is very passionate about. Getting anyone in government to listen to her has been the problem. She has presented it to U.S. Rep. Pete Olson, but it hasn’t moved from there. Even the state government could benefit from it, but getting a response from Austin is near impossible.
Yet through all of this, Sandy still finds time to sew. She enjoys making costumes, especially renaissance era outfits.
Sandy is a remarkable woman and a great wife and mother. These are traits she gets from the third woman I wanted to talk about – Sandy’s mom, Jerry Snyder. She, too, is a very godly woman who is dedicated to Christ and her family. When Sandy’s parents lost their jobs during the dot-com bust of the early 2000s, they moved to Florida and became missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Upon retiring a couple of years ago they made the move back to Texas to be closer to family.
Jerry, who is very much another mom to me, has become a very talented watercolor artist. She and Sandy’s dad are also globetrotters. Between touring and mission work you never know where they’ll be. Right now they’re busy building a beautiful home in Kerrville.
I consider myself a very fortunate man to have such amazing moms in my life and in the lives of my children. (The same goes for the dad’s, but this is a Mother’s Day column.) Thank you, Sandy, Jerry, and Barbara for all of your love, dedication, and influence. May God bless each of you always!
A Star Wars follow-up
In my column last week I talked about the first Star Wars Celebration 20 years ago and had interviews with Dan Madsen and Anthony Daniels. Here is the story behind the story. I had the column written and the page ready to release to press when I got a response to a request I made for an interview with Daniels, the actor best known for playing C-3PO. He called me last Tuesday morning, literally moments before I released the page. We did about a 20-minute interview and I quickly inserted his comments into the column and had the page re-done.
What neither of us knew at the time is that a mutual friend was dying. Peter Mayhew, the gentile giant who played the Wookiee Chewbacca, passed away that evening. He was 74. I’ve interviewed Peter several times and have seen him many times on the comic con circuit. Although I doubt he and his lovely wife Angie know me by name, they did recognize me and visited with me at conventions. We also had quite a few interactions on Facebook and Peter even used one of my photos as his profile picture for a while.
His loss hit me pretty hard. Peter wasn’t like a typical celebrity. He very openly embraced the fans and made friends everywhere he went. So many of us got to know him because he was in the Star Wars movies. We got to love him because he gave so much of himself back to the fans. He even has a charitable foundation that helps people in need (www.petermayhewfoundation.org). We are all fortunate to have had him in our world and in a galaxy far, far away. May the Force be with you, Peter. Rest in peace, my friend.