Dear Mom – A Tribute From Your Son


Dear Mom,

Living thousands of miles away from you has been difficult and on Mother’s Day the distance is more acute.  I long to see you and feel that presence that has been the stabilizing force in my life.

My Mother - Joyce I. Martratt - as a young woman in Washington D.C.

You are an amazing person and anything that is good in my character or in my deeds is a direct result of your patience, teaching and love. Even as a grown man,  that voice in my head that steers me on the correct course is yours, ever clear and perfect.

You have raised five children while you saw your first husband deteriorate from a neuromuscular disease.  Your faith and hard work helped our family survived his waning years and his death .  You were a young mother , widowed with five children and you managed to still move forward and upward. You eventually found someone to love and marry again.  That has been good to see you move in new directions in your life.

Dad ( Herbert Sablan Leddy), me and Mom ( Joyce I. Martratt) at my first Holy Communion

You have been my savior in the very literal sense.  You walked blocks as a seven month pregnant woman ( a military wife) carrying your very ill eldest son ( me) to a clinic  because a racist doctor refused to treat him.  When you arrived in the other clinic, they had to also treat you because of the stress and exhaustion of walking frantically there. Your mother’s instinct told you something was dreadfully wrong with your son. The doctor, who attended me, told you if you had waited one minute more, I would have died.  You are my superhero.  No one even comes close.

Mom ( Joyce I. Martratt) and Dad's ( Herbert Sablan Leddy) wedding 9 January 1960

I was your sickly child struggling with asthma attacks and convulsions. I still remember you holding me when my fever was so high I was hallucinating and seeing monsters on the wall.  Your calm voice and gentle arms made me feel secure until the fever and the nightmares ended.

When I was well, I was an active little boy.   How many times did your heart stop when I got lost?   Remember the time when we lived in Long Beach and I wandered off as a toddler and sat in the middle of a major highway and stopped traffic?   A kindly gentleman picked me up and I was able to remember where my home was and he took me back to you.

Mom - Joyce I Martratt

Also, do you remember the time I wandered off with a little girl on Coronado Island (off San Diego) to ride the ferry boat?  A police officer took us back home. I remember how cool it was to ride a police car.  I also remember that frantic face and scream of yours when the officer delivered me back to you. You were angry and happy simultaneously at seeing me.

I have always been your wandering child and that has not stopped, has it?

As a working mom, you spent hours with your children at night helping us with school work.  Here you were tired from work and you come home to make dinner and then help us with homework every single work night.  You always said that getting an education was one of the most important things to achieve in life. You led by example in this area, even though you did not attained some of the high degrees of the professors and academics that I have studied under, you are, by far much more educated and infinitely much more wiser.

You taught me and my siblings about faith.  We may not always agree on some theological points,  but any faith or spirituality I have in my life is because of you.  I remember how you would take us to Mass every Sunday.  After Mass, you would often ask us in the car what did we learn from the sermon given by the priest.  Although, we sometimes rolled our eyes at the questions and discussion ( especially as teenagers), the lessons you taught us about faith is more powerful than anything I have heard over a pulpit or read in Holy Script.  You are a saint to me.

You have always been a dynamic leader in Guam.  You speak with eloquence and sophistication.  You do not look your age.  I still remember in High School , one of my buddies thinking you were a student he could date.  I was always proud to show you off as my mother.

My life journey has been an interesting one, I am sure you have said more novenas for me than most of your children.  However, through it all, you have allowed me to live my life as I choose.  You have always accepted and loved me.  Through it all, we have become more than son and mother, but also friends.

When I was waiting with my sister Michele in Hawaii at the hospital while you underwent surgery last August,  I tried to imagine a life without you.  Mom, I could not imagine it.  I prayed for the first time in ages.  I prayed so fervently that the surgery would go well and for your speedy recovery.  I am not sure if my prayers were heard or your faith was just so strong, but you came out of that surgery bouncing with life!

There is so much more I can say about you.  You were recently honored for your civil service career at Andersen Air Force Base on Guam.  You have mostly worked for Generals but we all know who was in control of that office there – General Joyce – you!

No honor or award can match your greatness in my eyes.  As I get older I have realized that the greatest honor I have had in life was the privilege to be called your son.

Mother’s Day is too small a holiday to truly pay homage to the woman and the individual you are to me.   However, you have my undying love, Mama.

Your eldest,

JP



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