When I was little, she would sing with me, holding me on her lap at the piano or strumming along while I watched from inside the guitar case.
I know this mostly from photos.
The bedtime routine included a song every night. I remember You Are My Sunshine, and Blowin' in the Wind: "But what is the answer, Mommy? I know the answer is blowing in the wind, but what IS the answer?"
And she taught me to sing in music class, in church choir, in car rides to auditions, and long hours lying in her bed rehearsing my lines.
I was ten or eleven and I cried when she didn't let me play the lead--the DONKEY--in the Christmas musical that year but learned the limelight isn't the only place to make music.
I wanted to play the piano like her (to be like her) and she began to teach me at five.
When I decided to "quit" at age twelve--because I was going to be too busy with middle school--she made no protests, just let me stop taking lessons long enough to discover the love of piano for myself, and return of my own accord a few years later.
I was going to major in music (like her), just couldn't decide between singing and piano.
When I got caught up in "saving the world" instead, she joined the new song, and came to visit me in Africa.
We found ourselves learning new songs from the Maasai girls, singing late into the night in multiple languages.
In every decision of my life, without her needing to speak (though sometimes I felt she wanted to and still she held back) I felt her wisdom without putting it into words, simply pouring out of my fingers onto the keyboard like a well-practiced song.
She showed me what to do by loving example.
One day I saw it all clearly. I came home from college and the youth choir at church was giving a musical.
This one was different; the kids wrote some of their own script.
The popular kids and the kids who had never really bloomed--they told their own stories.
The singing was of God's love, and they knew it well.
Sitting in the back with my angsty college doubts and tears in my eyes, I knew that I, too, knew it well.
She taught it well.
Happy Mother's Day, Mommy!