Sunday, May 9, 2010

Honoring my mother...most of the time

Today is Mother's Day, a day in which we honor our mothers.

My mother and I are like oil and water...leave us in a room together for more than five minutes, and we'll be on each others nerves over something that never really matters.

I got to thinking about the possible reasons for this. Two came to mind.

First, perhaps I am so much like her that we see in each other those traits we don't like; or, two, perhaps because I am the oldest of six children and so much is expected of the oldest. In any case, I think of her today with so much love in my heart for the gracious woman that she is and for all she has taught me.

At 86, the only thing she does not tolerate in any of us is thinking ourselves better than the next person. Always rooting for the underdog. Always open to learning from others irregardless of their race, religion, station in life or anything else, for that matter.

After eight years attending a parochial grade school, my Dad wanted me to continue in a parachial high school. My mother put her foot down and said no. It was time I learned about people, places and things beyond what she saw as a limited experience. I attended a "melting pot" high school and am grateful I did. My eyes were opened.

She took me to Scandinavia, the first of many trips where I met my Danish family and saw where my grandmother was born and places she lived in Sweden. My eyes were opened.

I said I could never do the kind of needlework she did, and that putting stitches in an empty piece of cloth following a pattern of symbols was too baffling. She bought me a kit and patiently taught me how to start and see the pattern emerge on the cloth. My eyes were opened.

In fact, she has opened my eyes to so many things around me, and has always encouraged me to grow beyond what I thought I could.

So thank you, Mom, on your special day, and forgive me for all the times I get on your nerves. And Happy Birthday, Dad, who would have been 91 today. I love you both very deeply.