I have so many thoughts about my mother: love, gratitude, pride, respect, affection, and appreciation. As I was writing, it was not with grief of Mom’s passing. Instead, I wanted to honor her life – the same way she always inspired mine.
I saw mom for the last time in May and my main goal in that visit was to let her know just how proud she should be of everything she had accomplished in her life. I wanted her to know that she was the best mother in the world to my sisters and I. I told her that she should be so proud of how well she raised Susan and Karen because they are such phenomenal and wise women and have brought me so much comfort and support and wisdom during what has been the most difficult time in my life.
Mom always viewed her most important job to be a mother and took her job very seriously … but always approached it with a great sense of humor (something every mom requires) and patience!
My mom’s most important mission as a mother was to continually build us up … to encourage us to be strong women and individuals in our own right.
She taught us that being wives and mothers would always be our most important job. However, she also taught us that we needed to be self-sufficient and independent persons in our own right… to have the ability to stand on our own 2 feet because you never knew what might happen.
Mom always had a way of making us feel good about ourselves. Every Saturday, she drove us into Chicago to take music lessons because she believed that our talent warranted the best possible instruction. If you ever heard Susan play the flute or Karen play the piano, you would agree. Of course, if you ever heard me play the violin – you would beg me to stop ;-) Though these trips to Chicago took an entire day and Mom was never completely comfortable driving the freeways to downtown Chicago, she was happy to do it. She didn't view it as a burden and neither did we. It was a special day that we would spend together.
She was always so proud of our musical accomplishments – whether it was Susan playing the piccolo solo from Stars and Stripes forever to driving 8 hours one way for Karen's senior recital at St. Olaf.
Even just listening to us practice at home brought her joy. And I don’t know how many times I would be practicing the piano or even just plunking around making up a tune off the top of my head and Mom would be listening from the Kitchen. She would stop what she was doing to come in and listen and tell me how great it sounded. It made me so proud and to this day, when I sit down to play the piano, I can still imagine her running in to say “oh, I just love that!”
She always encouraged us to pursue our interests and our passions. For example, when I was in high school and I enjoyed factoring quadratic equations and had gone through every problem there was in my regular textbook, she drove me out to Waubonsee Community College so that we could buy a college text that would challenge me more. When I decided to pursue a Masters in Math and my grandfather disapproved, she stood up to him and told him that if that was what I wanted to do, then she would support that.
She inspired in us all a love of reading. We spent so much time going to bookstores as kids that to this day, my favorite escape is to go spend an hour wandering the aisles of bookstores in my area. Every trip to Eagle River, we would make a trip to the bookstore on the first day so that we could pick out reading material – I would always pick out 2 “Nancy Drew” books which would last for one 4-day weekend. Later, as we all received our salvation, she would include a trip to the Christian bookstore – to this day, I still have many of those books with inscriptions from Mom and Grandma Davis and they still bring me comfort.
Every day in everything I do, most of my habits have been influenced by Mom. Everything I know about being a mom I have learned from her. If you look at my library of DVDs, you would see many of the same movies she loved and that we watched as children: Fiddler on the Roof, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (I still crack up every time I see her favorite scene with the elevator man), Inherit the Wind, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner… and so many more.
My dad recorded a series of Christmas tapes from the radio when we were all very young and we grew up listening to those songs every year. Every year, when the Huron Carol came on, mom would say “shhhh, I want to listen to this”… and every year when I listen to the Christmas tape, I can still hear her saying that and it still brings a smile to my face.
As I go through my day, I remember her teaching me all the little things and I find myself teaching my own children the same things using the same words… like how to make Spaghetti and tell when the onions are browned enough (when they are translucent) and “be careful as you are adding spices because you can always add more but you can’t take it out”.
There are other words of wisdom such as “people aren’t going to notice when your house is clean but they sure will notice when it is messy”. She also always stressed the importance of “privacy” – a code word for making sure that our clothes covered what needed to be covered. To this day, when shopping for clothes, I look at myself to evaluate whether I have enough “privacy”. She also taught us about “family talk” – topics such as money and politics which were not to be repeated outside the house so we would not offend other people.
My mom wasn’t always the easiest person to get along with. However, she was strong. She was smart. She was an equal partner to my dad. And she raised us girls to be the same way.
One of her last words to me was when she was dozing in and out of sleep, she would wake up and look at me and smile and say “I just love looking at your beautiful face”. After 48 years and 20 years of marriage, my mom is the one person who could make me truly believe I was beautiful at I time when I needed that boost the most.
I guess the common theme for mom was that from the day we were born up until the very end, she took great pleasure in watching us grow and made it her mission to realize how special we are. I only hope that I can achieve that with my boys.
Last week, after someone said something particularly hurtful and cruel to me, my sister, Susan sent me the following passage from a devotional.
MATTHEW 12:36-37 NIV
36 But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day
of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.
37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words
you will be condemned."
Few people realize the importance of the words they speak.
Life is controlled by words. Words release authority.
Words determine the course of events. Words matter.
You need to ask the Lord to teach you and help you to
speak correctly -- because we must have God's help to tame our
Mom seemed to intuitively know the importance of words and she was a master at using them … mostly for good and not evil.
And somehow, whenever we were at our lowest and needed a lift, mom always had the right words to help us get back up and summon the courage and the strength to fight another day. If I can accomplish the same thing with my own boys, that to me will be success.
I am so very grateful to God that I had my parents for as long as I did. My most fervent wish and desire is that I was able to bring them as much joy and love as they gave to me. And I pray that God gives me the strength and the wisdom to be a never-ending source for the same unconditional love, support and positive energy for my own children.