May 12, 2019: A Mother’s Legacy of Lessons and Love
In honor of Mother’s Day 2019, my inspiration was to write about the mothers I’ve been blessed to have had in my life. These mothers have come at various times and in the different forms of family and friends but the care, love, support and wisdom they gave, continue to define who I am today.
“A mother’s love gives us the best inspiration and energy to grow up as a human being in this garden of humanity”
― Debasish Mridha MD
When I sit down each week to write this blog, I always search for quotes as additional inspiration, and finding quotes about mothers yielded a treasure trove of heartfelt thoughts. From poignant to heart rendering, they seemed to encompass the journey one takes, both as a child and later as as parent. At the same time, they created a tapestry of memories.
Motherhood: All love begins and ends there. Robert Browning
I was fortunate to have my grandmother live in the same town I grew up in. My Switzerland born “Mimi” was shy, but her lively personality came out in the presence of her grandchildren. Mimi wore her long hair in a traditional braid wrapped around her head, and would let us brush the silken strands. She let us carefully play with her Hummel figurines from Europe and would wind up her antique music box and to our delight dance with us. Mimi had a practice of inviting one of her 12 grandchildren at a time over for a special sleepover, and had the gift of making each of us believe we were cherished and her favorite.
“All the forces on this planet, will never beat that of a mother’s love.”
― Elle Smith,
After my mother had challenges for several years in conceiving and carrying a child to term, I surprised her by arriving unexpectedly two months early, during a time when care for premature babies was a new science. She shared stories of how hard it was to have me stay in the hospital after she was discharged and the joy she felt when six weeks later, I finally came home. Even though she was a nurse, the daily care of a tiny, fragile baby was a whole new world for her, a rollercoaster of an introduction to the incredible demands of what it means to be a mother.
“The art of mothering is to teach the art of living to children.” – – Elaine Heffner
My earliest memory was when I was three years old. My mother, a passionate gardener, was patiently teaching me how to plant pansies. I remember the smell of the soil, the vibrant colors of the pansies, and her soft voice explaining how “I needed to be gentle and handle the little plants with care”. She took my little hands in hers, and showed me how to loosen the soil, make sure their delicate roots were secure, tuck them gently into the soil, add a tiny bit of water (not too much!) and then wish them well.” A lesson I later recognized as one I needed when I became a parent. To this day, I love to garden, and whenever I see a pansy, I think of her.
“A mother’s love is everything. It is what brings a child into this world. It is what molds their entire being. When a mother sees her child in danger, she is literally capable of anything. Mothers have lifted cars off of their children, and destroyed entire dynasties. A mother’s love is the strongest energy known to man.” – – Jamie McGuire
When I became a mother for the first time, with my own tiny daughter coming six weeks early, I experienced the whole gamut of emotions from anxiety to exquisite joy. To this day, I can remember the feeling of incredible awe as I held her for the first time and the lengths I would go to protect her. I wondered if my heart could be any fuller. When my second and third children were born, I understood the phenomena how the capacity of love truly does expand.
“Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had.” – – Linda Wooten
The years as a parent passed by too quickly. The deceptively simple challenges of childhood evolved into the complexities of raising teenagers. Scraped knees were an easy fix with a bandaid and a hug. Surging hormones or a broken heart is more complex. As any parent of a teenager has learned, this takes courage, fortitude, patience and resilience. My mother once told me that “no matter how old your children are, you never stop worrying about them”. My three are now adults, and I still find myself in the parent mode of wanting everything to work out well for them…to be happy, healthy and safe.
“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power.” — Maya Angelou
My “preemie girl” Kate, is now a mother, giving me the gift of being a grandmother of two beautiful girls. I watch in awe how she juggles the load of working as a teacher and professional artist, yet makes the time a priority to teach her children the legacy of lessons passed down from my own grandmother and mother: “to have compassion for others, to be honest, to always try your best, to respect and value nature, to honor your creative spirit, and finally to believe in yourself.”
“The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the heart of a mother.” – – St. Therese of Lisieux
My life has been enriched by the mothers in my family from my own mother and grandmother to my daughter and step-mother Rita. At 85, Rita Oellers is vibrant and wise and continues to give me valuable advise and loving support. My friends, who have traveled the path as a parent, have shared their personal stories which express the whole range of emotions from frustration and worries to tears of joy and triumphs. There is an enduring strength in this community of mothers.
“The love of a mother is the veil of a softer light between the heart and the heavenly Father.” – – Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Although my mother and grandmother are no longer here with me, the legacy and lessons of love they gave me flows through my days and opened my own heart to the understanding of how love can transform a life.