I’ve been thinking a lot about my mom lately. Maybe it’s the holidays, which are so full of the memories and traditions she gave me. Maybe it’s the growing kids that she didn’t get to share with me. Who knows. When I think of her I don’t usually get sad, because (1) she had an awesome life and (2) I know she’s in heaven, which must be pretty awesome!! But the thoughts of her have prompted me to make a list of her best attributes, with the hope that I can emulate some of them.
She was old-fashioned. But not in a backward way – she held on to traditions that added values to our family. Believe me, she embraced modern conveniences every chance she got during her daily life. But when it came to holidays, she baked every pecan pie just the way her mother did. My children were the only ones in preschool with starched pants. She prayed every day. She held on to the things that made life meaningful.
She embraced change. Sounds like a contradiction to the previous item, but it’s not. She had a great career, jumped on the technology bandwagon when it rolled through, and got a toe ring when she was in her 60s. My son and I were talking about cell phones the other day, and he commented that if Granny were alive, she’d have the coolest phone on the market, and she’d play games on it all day long. And she’d be on Facebook. No doubt about that.
She was fiercely protective of her family. Sarah Palin may think she’s the original Mama Grizzly – but she never met my mom. She could be a little meek when it came to herself, but woe betide the person who committed a wrong against one of hers. That’s all I’m going to say about that. Those who were on the receiving end of that know who they are.
She was generous. My family was a fairly modest, middle-class family. Our life wasn’t fancy, but we had a brick home, 2 cars and a boat. My family was a fairly modest, middle-class family. Our life wasn’t fancy, but we had a brick home, 2 cars and a boat. We didn’t take extravagant vacations or buy expensive clothes, but my parents gave generously to their children, their church, and their chosen charities. I don’t ever remember her walking past a bell ringer at Christmas or a Shriner in front of the grocery store without dropping money in their bucket. When kids would knock at the door selling candy, she’d pay for two boxes, and then give one back to the kid to keep for himself. She never put coins in a collection basket, or ones for that matter. She gave generously.
She faced the end of her life with courage. As her physical health declined, she acknowledged it. In the final months on earth, she suffered a series of strokes, each one taking a little more from her. She had vascular dementia, which would come and go when one of the small strokes she had would hit. Sometimes it would last for a few hours, sometimes a few days. But when her wits were with her, she spoke openly and honestly about life and death. She wasn’t afraid to die. I think it’s because her life was so well-lived.
She was a woman of faith. No doubt inspired by her mother (who I never knew). She lived with us when my youngest son was born, and that child never went to bed without having a Hail Mary sung to him at bedtime. She did a good job at infusing faith into everyday activities. She didn’t just practice her faith. She lived it.
She was a delightful blend of love, strength, faith, and beauty. She loved the beach, a good cup of coffee, and visiting with her sisters. She died with a freshly done cherry-red pedicure. She had the same best friend from age 15. She liked to travel, but she loved coming home.
As I’ve gotten older, I realize I’ve taken on some of her mannerisms. (Even the ones I swore I’d NEVER do.) And when someone comments that I’m “like my mother” I smile. For there’s no one in the world I’d rather be like.
And she’d think it was really cool that you were reading her story!!
Originally posted in January 2011, this essay was reposted as part of the Midlife Boulevard Mother’s Day Blog Hop. I hope you enjoyed it!