This will be my fifth Mother’s Day without my mom. The first was just a few months after my mother had passed away and all the ads for possible Mother’s Day gifts made me sad; my mom was gone and I couldn’t give her any of those gifts. As the years have passed I still get sad around Mother’s Day, but only because I miss my mom. I’ve realized I can still give her gifts as I continue to use the things she taught me and try to emulate her positive qualities.
My mother was a very organized person. Household items all had a designated place which meant we could always find what we were looking for. She also had a calendar where she kept track of everyone’s activities — a necessity with seven children. I’ve followed her example and done the same things. I’m grateful for the order this brings to my house and my life.
Along with being organized, my mom also had definite ideas how things should be done. As one of my brothers remarked, “There was Mom’s way and the wrong way.” I too like things to be done in a certain way. However, I try to not be quite so particular and let others do things their own way. I am not always successful at this (if it’s my house, I should get to decide how things work, right?), but I keep trying to be more accepting of how my husband and children do things especially since now we’re all together more than usual.
My mother always tried to look for the good in others. Sometimes I found this quality annoying when I wanted to complain and get sympathy. She didn’t diminish my feelings, but her attitude often helped me to be more generous and understanding with others. I called frequently when I was getting divorced to complain about my ex, but her comments would remind me that I didn’t need to see my ex as a villain. When I am upset with someone, I try to think of what she would say and how she would look at the situation.
Another quality I admire in my mom was her uncomplaining attitude. When I was young we had a van that would occasionally stop running and just needed a quick adjustment to get going again. One day at a stoplight the van stopped, so Mom calmly made the adjustment and singed her hair in the process. She didn’t complain although I’m sure she was not too happy about her singed hair. My dad made sure the van got fixed after that incident. I complain more than she did, so I keep trying to improve here too.
Something that I have taken years to appreciate was Mom’s quiet way of expressing her love. My mom liked to sew and she made many clothes for my siblings and me. When I was a high school senior, I was asked to prom at the last minute. We went dress shopping, but couldn’t find anything so we went to the fabric store and picked out a pattern and fabric. A short 11 days later, Prom arrived and my dress was ready. My prom date and I both thanked my mom, but sadly I didn’t really recognize this as an act of love until I talked about this experience at my mom’s funeral.
Her whole life was filled with these expressions of love. She didn’t ask to be recognized; she just kept serving because she cared for us. When I adjust my plans to help my family or friends, I realize I am following my mom’s example and showing my love.
On this Mother’s Day, find ways to honor your mother and/or other mother figures in your life. Maybe that involves giving gifts, making a call, expressing thanks, or, as in my case, continuing her positive legacy.
Susan Cox is one of The Republic’s community columnists, and all opinions expressed are those of the writer. She is a mother and an adjunct instructor of English at Ivy Tech Community College Columbus and Indiana University Purdue University Columbus.
She can be reached at [email protected].