Saturday, May 7, 2011

Living a Life of Good Example


We define ourselves according to the way our mothers shape us in childhood. Well, at least I do. We look to our mother's for examples. How should we act in this situation?  What is the appropriate outfit to wear? What food ought to appear on our family table? How do we face success, failure, life, death?  A mother's attitude may teach us to greet each day with appreciation or bitterness.  That is a pretty big responsibility.

My sisters and I knew our mother was special, and because she was special we believed we were as well. We grew up hearing from strangers, teachers, and friends that are mother was an extraordinary beauty. I got teased by mean cousins about my mother's vivacious personality and deafening laugh (I didn't realize at the time what a gift it was to have a joyful mother). She told us her eyes were so great she could see passengers on airplanes waving to her, and she waved enthusiastically at every sky sighting.

She grew up dirt poor and painfully shy, but survived because of immense gratitude for every small blessing. A child born somewhere in the middle of eight siblings, our mother was the only one in her family to graduate from high school and eventually attended college.  She didn't learn to drive until she was 40, never learned to swim or ride a bike, and harbors a deep addiction to candy and ice cream. She knows more about dogs than an average person can learn in a lifetime.

When my sisters and our children gather to hang out with our mom, I usually leave with a throat sore from chatting and howling.  We talk fast and loud, a habit that came from long dinners together at a table where you had to make a quick impression in order to be heard.  That is probably why I am prone to exaggeration in my storytelling.  If the story isn't memorable, no one will listen.

Recently my daughter had the honor and opportunity to begin reading my mother's journals in order to pull together a biography of an exceptional life. S told me how reading my mother's words helped her to see and understand how similar I am to my mother, and how similar S is to me. Like an unbroken chain, our quirky mannerisms and opinions are part of a wonderful heritage; a distinguished and sometimes goofy identity inherited from a woman who laughs often, smiles always, and talks to strangers.

Happy Mother's Day to all the great Mom's out there, and especially to mine!

1 comment:

L said...

Say hello your mother hello from me! She is a wonderful person and you're very fortunate to have someone like in your life. :)