What did your mother give you?

1940's, my mother on the right

1940’s, my mother on the right

What did your mother give you?

Inspired by Mother’s Day and the publication of a new book, What My Mother Gave Me, Thirty-One Women on the Gifts That Mattered Most,” I spent time today reflecting on how I’d respond if I’d been asked to write an essay on this topic.  The gifts highlighted in photos in the book included hand-written recipe cards, an embroidered scarf, and a ring. An essay about these and other less tangible offerings accompanied each item.

I can’t really say that my mother gave me any material gifts in the last years of her life. When her dementia reached the state where she could no longer take care of herself, she had to move to an adult family home and I claimed a few things from her apartment — old photos, a small oak chest that belonged to my grandmother, and a few pieces of china. But these are not the things that stand out when I think of her.

My mother and I differed in many ways, but I’m pleased with most of the ways she had an impact. Her influence is obvious in my love of clothing, jewelry, shoes, purses and the latest styles. We went shopping together until she was in her late eighties and could no longer walk.

Another is the uncontrollable need to chat up store clerks, postal workers, and strangers of all kinds, but only when I’m alone. Give me a bank teller or a medical or dental tech and I’m off and running…at the mouth. My mother was friends with her neighborhood school crossing guard, bought donuts to give to the bus driver on the trip home from downtown Seattle, and on her daily walks stopped to talk to all those who happened to be working in their gardens.

My mother was a terrible cook and never touched a sewing machine, which accounted for my low grades in these classes in junior high.

But she more than made up for her deficits with other gifts. I never saw her sad. Her daily good cheer inspired others.  I know this because her friends always mentioned it to me. I’m glad that I carry that cheeriness with me most days. Her smile and laugh are what I miss most about her being gone.

What did your mother give you?

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About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness.
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