My mother passed away on Friday, September 1 after an incredibly tough battle with metastatic breast cancer. Over the past couple of days, our family has been overwhelmed with text messages, phone calls, food baskets, cards, Facebook posts, and a great deal of love and support. My mom was an incredible person who put the needs of other people before her own as a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, among many other roles she played. My mother taught me many things and there are a few that stick out the most to me, as I remember this incredible woman.
Don’t take yourself too seriously
My mom had a remarkable gift of lightening the mood and an ability to laugh at herself or the situation around her. Whether she was dressing up as Sister Mary Atrocious (the pregnant nun), Dig ‘Em (the Honey Smacks frog), or making a joke in a stressful situation, my mother could make people smile, put them at ease, and allow others to feel comfortable regardless of the situation. My mom was many things to many people and did incredible work in her life. I will never forget her smile, laugh, and ability to light up a room.
If you want something go out and get it
When my brother and I were little boys, my mom made the decision that she wanted to go back to school to pursue a degree in accounting while working a full time job. We really didn’t think too much about the busyness around us, because it was just kind of the way things rolled in our house. My mom and dad were extremely hard working people focused solely on making things better for my brother and I in the future. They modeled what it is like to find your passion and go after it. Whether my mom was pursuing a degree in accounting, investing her efforts in creating sailor valentines, collecting the ENTIRE set of hedgehogs, dragons, fairies, or whatever she happened to be into at that particular time, she did it with the highest level of enthusiasm and passion. Nothing she ever did was half-assed and I learned early on from her, if you want something, go out and get it. We are going to miss my mother like crazy.
Accept others for who they are
When I was in elementary school my brother and I had a couple of the same teachers. My brother excelled in school and did not need to put forth much effort to be successful. I was a completely different story. I really struggled to read all the way through high school. I could read all kind of words at a pretty respectful speed; however, my comprehension was horrible. I simply could not focus enough to understand what I was reading. I will never forget a parent/teacher conference I attended with my mom in elementary school nearly thirty years ago. My teacher sat down with my mother and I to go over my progress, share some of my projects, and go through the typical parent/teacher conference protocol. Near the end of the conference, my teacher shared something that has stuck with me forever when she said,"You know, Dan isn't nearly as smart as his brother, Sam." My mother's response was amazing. She replied with, "Your comment is offensive; Dan is his own person and right where he needs to be."
I bring up this memory because it happens all the time in classrooms and athletic fields all over the country. You hear people say, "Well, so and so is not nearly like her big sister..." As educators and people who serve others, we owe it to ourselves to treat each person as the unique, amazing individuals they are. My mother taught me this lesson at an early age and instilled a sense of confidence that has lived on.
As I close this out, I want to leave you with an excerpt from a book my mother read to us nearly thirty years ago: Love You Forever by Robert Munsch.
“I’ll Love You Forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
My Mommy you’ll be."
I love you, Mom and will be thinking about you each and every day.