My mom passed away in October 2011. It was unexpected and quick, which while shocking was merciful. That is the sad part. Here is the happy part-my mom was an amazing lady! She was filled not only with physical strength (which was belied by her extremely thin stature) but more importantly she had character strength which left a lasting impression. My mom’s adulthood was filled with health challenges which became quite serious when she was in her late 30’s. She overcame and fought back from near death and very serious situations multiple times, she was literally too busy to be sick, she had three kids to take care of! She dealt with her challenges, raised three kids and worked part-time out of our home. She got things done and truly ruled the roost (she was a stubborn German after all). I feel bad for calling myself a supermom when I think of what she accomplished. Make no doubt about it my mom was a tough lady- in words and sometimes mannerisms. But I learned a lot from her.
Lesson 1: Work hard nothing is handed out for free. My parents were not well off, all three of us girls had part-time jobs as soon as we were old enough in order to have spending money and help save for college. And we always had assigned tasks to do around the house (cut the lawn, run the vacuum, wash the dishes, etc). I used to resent this when I was younger. But once I graduated from college I realized that my parents had it right. I truly valued my college education, I didn’t take years and years floundering from one major to another because I had to pay portions of the cost. And even though I came out of school with a student loan to payoff, it was a major feel-good accomplishment when I paid it off in just a few years. I have a strong work ethic and I think being a good multi-tasker came from always having to balance work, school and fun time. I don’t expect things to be given to me, I work hard to earn promotions/achievements. And I think I enjoy them more because of this.
Lesson 2: Family Matters. Growing up my mom was sick periodically and had a number of surgeries when my sisters and I were young. We were very fortunate that we had two sets of grandparents and lots of aunts, uncles and cousins who helped my parents out. My parents relied on them a lot and it was just understood that family helped family, with no keeping track of who did who a favor or who is owed something back. As us girls grew up we did our duty to help our grandparents (sometimes under duress) with anything that needed to be done (yard work, cleaning, etc). My mom valued her family-not only her immediate family but also her extended and historical family as she was the family genealogist. As an adult I see families where they are not tight-knit, there is in-fighting, there are siblings that don’t talk to each other, or disowned children. I just cannot imagine this situation. I am grateful for my two wonderful sisters and all of my in-laws. I know we will always be there to help each other out at the drop of a hat, no questions asked. I truly look forward to large family events with the extended family and I count my luck stars for each day that my grandma is with us.
Lesson 3: Demonstrate love. Sometimes what you learn from your parents isn’t what they did, but what they didn’t do. My mom was not overly demonstrative. I honestly don’t have any memories of kisses, hugs or saying “I love you” just because (or really very often at all). Hugs weren’t really shared until I was an adult and us girls started hugging hello and goodbye. It was awkward at first doing that with my mom. Sure, she signed cards “Love Mom” but it wasn’t shared verbally, certainly never just because in the middle of the day for no reason. When I had children I vowed that I would shower them with love so they never doubted their parents loved them. I hug and kiss them multiple times a day and verbally say “I love you” just because. I know this has taken root with my son when out of the blue while playing Legos my son says “I love you Mom”. And then later while getting buckled into the car he says “I Love you” to his little sister and she says it back to him! That melted my heart and validated that I am doing the right thing. There is no such thing as too much love!
Thank you mom for everything you taught me. Goodbyes are not forever, they are simply I’ll miss you until we meet again. I love you.