My brother Jody and I are fortunate to have been able to spend as much time as we did with our mother over the past few years. Although she lived to be nearly 94, we all wish it could have been just a little bit longer, but nothing in life is permanent.
Mothers, as you know, are very special and ours was especially so. Being a mother means a lifelong commitment to putting someone else’s happiness and well being ahead of their own and to teach values and, at times, hard lessons.
Our mother was always there for us - a constant source of love and kindness and of strength and wisdom - all rolled into one. Well, more accurately into two when you consider the many years she had together with our father.
Over the past few days I’ve had time to think back on a lifetime of fond memories about our mother and father and how much they meant to each other and to Jody and me.
Together our parents taught us about right and wrong, about thoughtfulness and respect for others and about the importance of family and friends. And most importantly, they taught us to do something meaningful by making the world just a bit better for others, especially our own children.
Our mother worked very hard, 12+ hours a day at the side of our father in the local grocery store. And when the large chains took over and put them out of business she continued to work as a teller and manager in the local bank. All of this so Jody and I could have opportunities which our mother and father did not. That’s what made them happiest.
Perhaps the most important bit of wisdom our parents imparted to us is that happiness is not about wealth or fame or about personal achievement. It’s all about family and friends and meaningful relationships.
It was 31 years ago that our father died after a prolonged battle with cancer with our mother at his bedside. I remember what he taught us based on his personal experience with death and dying. He knew his body was shutting down and he experienced with great clarity that what he was really all about was doing ok and was going to be just fine - God was taking care of that. We just had to look out for and take care of one another during the interim. And before he died, he promised we would see each other again. Death is not the end.
And I believed him and although I cannot know it with certainty, I believe our mother like our father does knows it with absolute certainty now.