This is not a poem. It is not really a story, either. I don't really need to classify it in a category, I suppose. I simply say it is an expression of respect, gratitude, and love for my mom...like a living eulogy.
Recently losing a loved one in the family to a tragic death, I am realizing how vital it is to tell my mother how much she means to me. No, it doesn't have to be Mother's Day for this to take place, nor her birthday (although she just turned 76 on November 2nd). The reason is so much more than the norm, than the expected. It is an urging need within to express my emotions, my creativity—before I forget—before the emotions fade, or I talk myself out of doing what I think is right.
I fear I might start to take things for granted again and never decide to actually do it.
You see, when my father died nearly eight years ago, it was at his funeral that I spoke the kind, fond words in a eulogy that I wrote for him. It was nice to say it at church to an attentive audience who heard how I lovingly felt about my dad. It seemed easier, safer to my comfort zone, not to speak such things to him while he was alive. Sure, my father knew I cared. I looked after him when he was dying, and we had a great bond during that time. But I would love to turn back time, and tell him face-to-face. I cannot, but I wish to say these things to my mother now, while she is still here—and not simply in her memory someday—writing it all down before I forget what I want to her to hear and read for herself.
It is easy to fight with someone you love, and to find fault. Most children have conflicts with their parents. Often, some of us want to place blame and be angry, even if it is momentary. It is another thing to stop and think of what our lives mean, and to remember those who enhanced us, shaped us, and taught us. Sometimes, we learn the hard way. We may learn by fire—I often have—for it is the intense stuff that shapes us, develops us, and refines us into who we are. If we are keenly aware about it, that is, and use everything for our good.
My mother taught me many good things. I want to say them in the here-and-now, not just to memorialize her some day in the future….so here it goes.
This is what my mother taught me:
She taught me that hate is a sin. Yes, a sin, for my mother realized that hate is a strong emotion, a destructive one that is not pleasing to God. She thinks it is simply wrong—no matter what. As a child, this wasn't always what I wanted to hear—if I was passionately, downright, furious with someone—but I surely have grown up and now understand that she was absolutely right. No matter how justified I can feel, the wisdom of it keeps tugging at my heart. As I have heard in a quote before: Hate is easy, love takes courage. I have my mother to thank for instilling such principles in my childhood. They perpetually instruct me, speak to me and to remind me throughout my years.
My mother taught me to be fair and even in life, and she never played favorites among me and my two older brothers. If it can be helped, she believed that nobody should get more than the other, or less. As the oldest of 13 children, she understood that proper distribution is important, and nobody should be left out
My mother taught me to be honest. I knew that she did not like to lie to anyone for her own gain or anyone else’s. If I wanted her to lie for me, I saw that she was against it and quite uncomfortable about going against her belief. That is something that I learned to uphold as a virtue, too, applying to my life.
Even the little things, she taught me. "Cover your mouth when you yawn....Answer people when they address you” all have merit. (She still is in the correcting business on stuff like that!)
She has written a little bit of poetry and sketched a bit, too. Her poetry was simple and sweet, and she would write stuff in my birthday cards a few times. She even wrote poetry in her father's card one time, and he thought it was beautiful. It was not often that she heard such compliments. I guess that is where I get my love of poetry, story writing, painting and drawing—from her. And I think, perhaps, my mom got her interest in sketching from her father.
My mom had and still has a beautiful singing voice. Many in the family told me so. She certainly could have been a professional singer—she was that good. Some of her siblings could sing well, too, and her mother. It used to drive my crazy that she would hum to songs in commercials or start singing when music played in the movies or on TV. "Do you have to sing?" I would ask. But I later realized how fun singing was, and my mom was surprised that I actually liked to do it, too. I think she was convinced that I held an anti-singing stance in life. If only I could sing half as good as she ever did, and appreciated it more.
My mother taught me not to waste, not food or practical things. And although I used to think she was way too much like that, I now understand it is a value to use money wisely. My mom certainly appreciated the value of a dollar, growing up in a large, impoverished family. She certainly did not come from the "throwaway generation".
My mom also taught me generosity. She has been this way with her children, helping us out financially, if needed. My father was that way, too, later in life. It was a blessing to know my mom and dad were there for me, and I could be there for them. They were adamant about helping others if they helped you. And surely that can be expanded to helping those who cannot help themselves, something I am passionate about.
My mother knew how to laugh and have a playful side to her. Even with her physical ailments—her bad back, her arthritis—my mom has maintained her humor. My dad did, too. There was plenty to be serious about. Yet they both had a silly side to them, and those kinds of qualities remind me that growing older does not mean that one has to lose that childlike part that keeps us young and less heavy-laden. My mom just has always had a more bubbly personality. Starting out in life as very shy and introverted—more like my dad—I also learned to be a bit more like her.
Lastly, my mother taught me about faith, that there is a God. I believed in God as a little girl. Later, my mom and I had our share of fighting and bickering about the importance of going to church.. As a teenager, I had major doubts and disbelief, and stayed away from such practices. But there was a foundation laid down before me that I later desired to lean on and thirst for. Although our religious paths differed for good, my mother and I both are Christians, and my mom never lost or questioned her faith like I often have. I am now glad to be able to say that I have faith in God, and it is so necessary for me.
Yes, my mother taught me many things for which I am grateful for.