Heavy D at around my age. Spunky as always!
I often think of the lessons my mother taught me, the ones that shaped the direction of my life in large and small ways. Some were given through stories and lectures, many were taught by her example- possibly the most important of all. The older I get, the more I see their importance and the more I learn from those lessons. I often fail, but I do my best to learn from Heavy D’s successes and her failures…and then in the end I make my own. What a wonderful example she set of how to live in grace, no matter the circumstance. Here are five lessons from the countless ones Heavy D shared with me…
Lesson No. 1: Be grateful- no matter what.
Someone always has it worse than you, and good things often find their way out of hard times. I saw Mom go through things that would have broken many people, but she found a way to make it to a brighter side, to draw humor from sadness, and she went on. She was human- she cried, she felt sorry for herself sometimes, but she didn’t stay there long. She lived well no matter the circumstance, making wherever she lived her castle.
Lesson No. 2: Smile and laugh- a lot.
Mom always said that being silly is what got her through tough times. From honking the horn on her walker to doing the Polka, to making silly faces ,she loved to laugh and to make others laugh, too. I’m a big believer in sharing a smile with people you meet- you never know what the gift of your smile might be for someone. If nothing else, it makes you feel better. Try it!
Lesson No. 3: Celebrate life- even in hard times.
Mom would tell stories of her childhood growing up in the Depression, and never complained about what they didn’t have- it was all about the way her family worked together, the special things that happened that stood out and meant more because they were something you had to work hard for. Even when at ninety she had to move yet one more time to The Home for Wayward Seniors, she chose to make the best of the situation, embracing new friendships and creating a happy life in what could have turned out to be a challenging and scary change. She chose to be happy, and so she was. Sometimes it truly is that simple.
Lesson 4: Be kind. Always.
I watched my mother share what little she had with others my whole life. She watched people and learned what made them happy, be it a special gift (“little remembrance”), a homemade apple pie, a card, or just a kind word. She was gentle and kind with people she met. Oh, she’d vent to me and my sister when she needed to, but she was never one to rant and rave in public- she knew words couldn’t be taken back. Better to turn the other cheek- every time.
Lesson 5: Love with all your heart.
My mother loved fiercely, loyally. She sacrificed for those she held dear, and as her daughter, I will never even truly know or understand all that she sacrificed for me. She may not have always agreed with my or my siblings’ choices, but she never stopped loving us. Aside from just missing having her in my life, what has been the hardest has been losing the one person in life who would love me no matter what. In a way, her death left me feeling like my anchor had been cut, and I was left to drift at sea…until I realized that her love would be there in the life lessons she instilled in me, and the countless memories I have of our time together. She is always with me- a beautiful thing.