Today is Mama's 81st birthday. I get to spend the whole day with her, and for that I am very, very grateful.
A few years ago, in honor of her 77th birthday, I started compiling a list of things she has taught me. Each year since then, on her birthday, I've added to it.
I wish this year the lessons weren't so plain.
The past few months haven't been easy on her. Her legs went on strike and she spends most of her time in a wheelchair now.
After being so independent and active all of her life (chin-up champion of her elementary school, softball player, bowler, pregnant roof-climber when her 5-year-old son wouldn't come down, main caregiver of her 6-foot-tall adult quadriplegic son, square- and line-dancer, playmate of her grandkids) and being the one all of us depended on, physically and mentally, I can only imagine how frustrating it has to be for her now, unable to do even the simplest things without someone's help.
But, as usual, she's got a great attitude about it. She laughs more than she complains. She expresses appreciation for the help even as I'm sure, inside, she mourns her independence. And she still focuses on others more than herself.
This year my mother is teaching me grace.
(with a few of her grandkids at Daddy's birthday party last month.)
Happy birthday, Mama, with much love and gratitude!
Things Mama has taught me...
- it's never too late to learn something new
- if you have a choice between laughter and tears, choose laughter.
- don't let anyone mess with your babies!
- only give advice when asked for it (I'm still working on that one)
- pray every day
- pray some more
- reading a good book might not solve your problems, but it's a nice escape from them
- bend but never break
- some people are just takers
- be nice whenever possible, but sometimes nice doesn't cut it
- take care of family
- we're all individuals - let your kids blossom into themselves, not "mini-me's"
- be there
- Johnny Weismuller is the best movie Tarzan
- don't be in a rush to be older than you are - you're only going to be this age once in your life
- if you like something, and you'll use it, and you can afford it, then buy it, or you'll regret it later
- quality over quantity
- never think "can't"
- people will stand in line for a dead skunk if it's free
- roll with the punches
- have fun
- laugh often
- believe in yourself
- don't let others change who you are
- be honest
- don't steal
- forgive yourself
- God loves me
- don't judge
- just do it!
- inside matters more than outside
- don't use God's name in vain
- you can learn anything if you put your mind to it
- you're never too old to dance
- it's okay to ask for help
- show appreciation and express gratitude
- use my manners
- consider the source
- an office or position of authority should be respected, but the individual in that position has to earn your respect
- sleep is good
- take advantage of opportunities
- keep your eyes open and your wits about you
- people aren't always nice
- things can't make you happy
- use your imagination
- just get started and the rest will be easy
- don't be intimidated by anyone - we're all the same, all human, we all have strengths and weaknesses
- you can love someone even if you don't like them
- forgive but don't forget
- learn from others' mistakes
- there are times for being patient, and time for putting your foot down
- speak up
- stand up for what you believe in
- admit your mistakes and expect others to do the same
- persistance pays off
- let your kids be kids
- love unconditionally
- take lots of pictures
- kids grow up fast
- your kids need a mother, not another friend
- pets are family
- help others
- a sense of humor is essential for sanity and survival
- if you look close enough, you can find something to love about everyone
- coffee is good anytime
- messes can be cleaned up
- prayer works
- God is strong all the time - let him carry you
- if you say you're going to do something, do it
- be nice to yourself in case no one else is
- you have to show respect to get respect
- girls are tough
- don't put up with temper tantrums
- listen to your body - doctors don't know everything
- don't say everything you're thinking
- asking questions is the best way to learn something
- your babies are always your babies (and their babies are your babies, too!)
- God is.
- Just listen.
- people are more important than things
- there is a time to help others, and a time to let others help you