Family Magazine

Life’s Big Black Bag of Lessons. Top Three Things My Mother Taught Me.

By Expatdoctormom1 @ExpatDoctorMom

Life’s Big Black Bag of Lessons. Top Three Things My Mother Taught Me.I originally had another post planned for today.  But after reading a roundup of posts on Gini’s site Spin Sucks, it made me rethink what is important to relay today… on mother’s day.  And if you don’t follow Gini, you should.  Great posts and does she have charisma! as does the whole community she is part of.  But I digress.

At the end of last year, I wrote a story about my father which was accepted along with 96 other stories from around the world for publication in a charitable book to be released next Father’s Day.  You can read that story here.  I was sad when I learned the book on Mother’s had already been published.  I would have loved to write a tribute to my mom.  So here goes.

First, a little background on my mom and then onto the lessons.  My mom grew up in Serbia largely without her father who was off fighting in WWII later becoming a POW in Germany.  He wanted a better life for his family so he made his way America.  During this time, my mother’s only sister died of meningitis at the age of 6.  So it was only my mom and her mom.  My grandfather was finally able to reunite his family in America after more than a decade of being apart.  My mom arrived in American as a young adult… unmarried.  After realizing that most men were arriving from Serbia married, my mom’s marriage was arranged.  See my father’s story as to why he chose to leave his family. As anyone knows marriage is a lot of work.  It was probably even more so for them.  But, in the end it became the marriage it should have been; one of equals.

In the early days, she ran her own beauty shop (maintaining her license even to this day). But with the recession, she had to close her shop. Most of her adult life, she worked 2 jobs to send the three of us to school. Together my parents paid off 2 houses on their meager salaries by the time they were in their 50’s.  All the while, never complaining.  It has always been a great sadness that she has not been able to enjoy her senior years with my father.  (Gini, now I am crying.) Now onto the lessons.

Carry a big purse.

By this I don’t mean carry an expensive purse.

Despite working two jobs my mom found time to chaperone one of our school field trips.  I will never forget how proud I was that day.  My mom had this big black purse that seemed to be filled with everything any child could ever need.  Someone scraped their knee, out came the band aid.  Someone needed a Kleenex out it came.  Someone grew thirsty mysteriously a drink appeared.  That big black purse was bottomless as to what it held that day.

Later I asked her why she had brought that big purse and she said with kids you never know what you will need. I said but you had everything mom!  She said “Not always but you make do”.  Plan for the unexpected and improvise when you can’t.

Carry Big Pom Poms

My mom somehow always knew what was important to me without my ever having to tell her.  She, along with my sister, has been my biggest cheerleader.  My mom doesn’t run but in 1996 when I ran my first marathon, she had my sister drive her 2 hours to Columbus so she could see me run and finish the race.

One year, while planning for our college payments, she knew they would fall short.  My mom said to me: “you have to take another job”… which started at 6 am in the laundry room of where my mom was working as a housekeeper.  I was already working one job into the wee hours of the morning (Does anyone remember Shooter’s in the flats of Cleveland, fun!).   So that is what I did, took another job.  I hope I didn’t whine too much. But something tells me I probably whined.

My mom knew I could do it. She was also there to support me.  She worked the first hour of my shift so I could snooze as her shift didn’t start until 7 am.  It was tough getting home at 2 am and then going back in by 6 am.  But we both made it through.  And all of our tuitions went paid that year.

Carry a Big Wallet… of Love and Kindness

I don’t recall a time when I have ever seen my mom be unkind to anyone.  There were unfortunately two women in her life who have been undeservingly most unkind.  I used to ask her why she was friendly to them.  She made it clear there was no need to stoop down to their levels.  This has helped me to judge the women based on how they treat me alone.

She used to enjoy practicing small acts of kindness and was always bringing something into the nursing home she cleaned at for the seniors: a crossword  book, a favorite snack or some candy.  Often these seniors have no one, she would say.

In 1997, my father had a brain bleed.  He was left with difficulty speaking and with paralysis of one side of his body which almost fully resolved.  She spent the year nursing him until he died the following year.  Four months after he died, my mom decided to retire.  Two months after she retired, her mother had a stroke affecting the same parts of her brain. Unfortunately, there was less recovery of my grandmother’s speech and despite being able to walk initially she regressed and remained bedridden.  My mother nursed her as well for more than a year and a half until she died.  What are the chances to have this happen not once but twice?  I have often thought my mother is like Mother Theresa without the acclaim.

Whenever I am in a dilemma, she is my “go to gal”.  Many times, I ask myself: “What would my mother say?”  Often times, I already know the answer.

This one’s for you, Mom.  I love you!

Happy Mother’s day to all!

What is the favorite lesson your mother has taught you?


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