I don’t think about how I see things. I just look.
I traveled to Chicago with my husband to celebrate Mom’s life with a memorial that family and friends could share in. A time of fun memories and sad realities that make up each of our lives.
Mom was no exception.
It was a grey, sleety day. The sky couldn’t figure out whether it wanted to snow or rain. A cold, miserable combination that this Florida gal found to be over-the-top uncomfortable. But it reflected the somberness of my heart as we converged to say a final farewell to Mom.
We gathered as family. All four siblings, close family members. We toasted Mom and joked how she’d have been holding a scotch on the rocks. No twist.
There aren’t many in Mom’s family left. But they all came out, plus friends who knew our family, to honor her and encourage us.
It’s funny how one person can appear so different to a variety of people based on our perceptions and stories. I knew Mom was a fun-loving gal, but as a daughter, I sometimes missed the woman in light of her “mom-ness”. Peers saw her through a different lens. Older family members had different context. As a daughter, she was my initial role model of womanhood, marriage and relationships.
She was not a conventional mother. Working at seeing her through the eyes of others helped me grasp a better picture of who she was.
One lens that was particularly fascinating to look through was Mom’s own. She had a small journal with thoughts and ideas she’d written as a young adult that captured much of who she was. Her love for dancing was echoed in her desire to collect dance cards. Her bold spirit was shown in her yearning for adventures and chances to go places and do things as she got older. She wasn’t content with mediocre. As my brother well-stated it, she always shot for the gold and refused to settle for silver.
She traveled to New Orleans on a river boat with a friend. Had such a good time, she called her boss at the end of her vacation and told him she was staying another week. He said it was fine–though I doubt a different response would have mattered.
She volunteered at the USO and danced at gatherings with service men as they were getting ready to deploy. Her smile and humor had to have smoothed over momentary anxiety.
When she got her first adult job, she saved for a mink coat. A depression-era child, she knew what she wanted. And wasn’t afraid to work for it.
I wish I’d known her as a peer. I think we’d have been really good friends.
People aren’t easy. We’re unique, made intentionally by God who knows everything about us. He doesn’t make mistakes. We need to see people as they’re intended to be seen–through God’s eyes, with appreciation for our differences and acknowledgement that diversity is an amazing gift to us all.
Seeing Mom with new eyes? That’s God’s gift to me.
Valuing the legacy of a Mom who was different? That’s my gift to her and her memory.
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