Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Mother’s Day: A Day of Positive Reflections With or Without a Mother

Mother’s Day without a mother doesn't have to be a sad occasion. When I was a child, in the community in which we lived, the tradition was to wear a flower to church on Mother’s Day: a red carnation if your mother was alive, a pink carnation if your mother was sick, and a white carnation if your mother was no longer alive.

Having lost my mother several years ago, tradition would dictate I wear a white carnation to church on Mother’s Day. But I will not. Rather than dwell on the fact that Mamma is no longer alive, this Mother’s Day, I will dwell on how thankful I am to have had an opportunity to have her in my life.

Mamma gave me unconditional love and taught me how to be self-disciplined and trustworthy. She taught me how to sew and cook. And Mamma understood me; we were both introverts. Moreover, she taught me about faith, hope, and love.

As I reflect on the many things for which I am thankful, faith, hope, and love are three of the most invaluable gifts Mamma gave me because these gifts keep on giving.

The Gift of Faith
Mamma taught my siblings and me about faith. She taught us our first prayers and sent us to Sunday School. One of the first Bible scriptures she taught us was to Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:2). It didn't mean much to me as a child, but when I got older, I learned to appreciate the fact that she picked this scripture to focus on rather than the scripture about obeying your father and mother. When you grow up, you do not have to obey your parents, but it is admirable and beneficial to honor them—even when you don’t agree with them. Today, I use this gift of faith every day. I continue to have a spiritual relationship with my Creator, and I have taught my children about faith.

The Gift of Hope
Mamma knew how to live above the circumstances. She would redesign an outdated garment when she didn’t have the money to buy a new one. Mama would make turkey hash from the leftover Thanksgiving turkey meat and make turkey soup from the turkey bones. And she rearranged the furniture to make the living room look “new” when she could not buy new furniture. Mamma never dwelt on what we did not have. She always worked with what she had. Today, I use her gift of hope every day. I am an optimist. I can see the potential in something, and I always hope for a positive outcome.

The Gift of Love
My siblings and I laugh about this all the time: It was not until we became adults that we realized our family was probably in one of the lower economic brackets. And I thank my mother and father that we did not recognize this when we were children. Because Mamma and Daddy gave us unconditional love and provided a home that we were always happy to return to, we never missed what they could not afford to buy us. They also taught us how to demonstrate love and respect toward other people. Today, I use this gift of love every day. I try to treat others how they want to be treated. 

I am thankful for the faith, hope, and love my mother gave me. But I also loved the quirky little things she did. When she thought we needed a spanking, she grabbed her comb and chased the four of us around the house. She never did catch us. Or, maybe she never intended to catch us. Mamma loved Nat King Cole's songs. On hot summer Saturday mornings, you could hear her singing, “Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa . . . Men have named you . . . You're so like the lady with the mystic smile . . .” as she dusted and vacuumed the house. She was a beautiful woman inside and out. I thought she was spectacular--perfect, but she would be the first one to tell you she was not perfect.

Mothers are Like Diamonds
When I graduated from college decades ago and secured my first job, after buying a car, I bought something I had always wanted: a pair of diamond stud earrings. I was impressed with an ad in the newspaper: $49.00 for ¼ carat diamond stud earrings. What I did not know before I bought them was that, deep within the diamonds, they were peppered with black specks. Diamonds are formed from the immense pressure from the layers within the earth. But sometimes all the carbon doesn't crystallize, and this results in black specks. Mothers are like diamonds. They are not perfect, but they are worthy of honor because they gave us life. 

If you have animosity toward your mother, I encourage you to forgive. Holding on to grudges is toxic. I learned a valuable lesson about not forgiving from a guest speaker I had the pleasure of listening to. The man described a documentary on how monkeys are hunted. Hunters build a cage with a hole in it that is large enough for a monkey to put in its hand. The hunters lure monkeys by placing a banana inside the cage. A monkey would see the banana in the cage, discover the opening large enough for it to put in its hand, and then grab the banana. Hunters would descend upon the monkey and easily capture it because it would not let go of the banana. All the monkey had to do was let go of the banana, pull out its hand, and flee. Instead, the monkey maintained its hold on the banana as it tried to pull its hand out of the cage. The monkey’s weakness in not wanting to release the banana cost it its life. It reminds us that holding on to a grudge hurts us more than it hurts the other person. So, let go, and allow yourself to love and honor your mother, even though you may not agree with her or like what she has done. 

This Mother’s Day, whether your mother is living or deceased, reflect on all the things for which you are thankful, even if it is only for one thing--that she gave you life

How do you honor your mother? This is the story in you. Share it.


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