After mom died we sisters looked at each other and rejoiced in the things that we could see in each other that were like her. Andra loves babies like she did. Laila looks so much like Mom when she was young. Margaret is loving like Mom was. I actually felt quite left out in this listing of characteristics--we all know that I am so much like Dad. It took a lot of searching on my part before I found some of Mom in me; I love working with numbers, and I am (almost) always late. I know that is not a good characteristic to have, but I was just so excited to know that some part of me was like Mom.
I wonder if we can ever truly appreciate our loved ones while we still have them. That probably sounds like a terrible thing to say--but let's be real. Even the most compatible people clash from time to time, and it's easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of life and forget what a remarkable thing it is to have a life filled with loving family and friends.
I know I never appreciated Mom enough while she was alive. She was one of my closest friends and I talked to her almost every day--which was a big deal back in the days of expensive long distance charges. But how could I, the mother of young children, appreciate yet the mother she had been to me as a teenager? How would I really understand how amazing it was that one year 5 of her children were teenagers and she didn't kill anyone? Each new stage that I experience as a mother brings me a new appreciation for the woman that our mother was.
Nothing about mom's background predicted success. She came from a poor family and married a young man from an almost-as-poor family. They both worked harder than I can conceive of to provide for their family.
I read a quote the other day that reminded me of Mom. I spent a lot of my teenage years noticing all of the things that she didn't do well, and thinking about how I would have done better. As a young mom I made sure to not repeat faults that I had seen in her mothering. It probably wasn't until a couple of years before she died that I realized how unimportant those particular characteristics were. I saw then that Mom excelled at the truly important virtues.
Maya Angelou said, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
Mom made me feel amazing. I would rather have had her for 31 years than any other mom for a lifetime. She sent me off to college at financially stressful time and never told me how bad things were. She talked to me like I was the smartest, most wonderful person in the world. She asked my opinion often and never gave hers in a condescending or patronizing way. I could go on and on--I now have a list of things I wish I could thank her for, and an even longer list of things I would apologize about.
I wish I were more like Mom. I think she had the gift of true charity--the gift to be able to love others as Christ loves them. That's not a gift that I have--at least not right now. But I am resolved to try to do better. In this thing I would love for people to be able to remember that I was like my mother.