Blogathon 2012 – May 4 Honoring My Mother

Sharon Millar’s Facebook status, “Oh God, I miss my mother” attracted an outpouring of sentiments, drenched in the emotional connection to our mothers, which lives on after they have died. I was stirred to share the following essay, which I wrote six years after my mother died. I’ve tweaked and published it numerous times since.

My Mother’s Legacy of Creativity


Like many women I know, it seemed far easier to focus on the negative aspects of my relationship with my mother. I drew on those memories to justify what was lacking in my day-to-day existence. I used them as the proverbial crutch to prop myself up as I wobbled through life. Thankfully, God’s command to honour my parents, kept me mindful of my duty as a daughter to a mother.

Despite the feeling that I was not exploring my full potential because of issues in my childhood, I remained respectful towards her. I recognized where some of my inadequacies and fears originated but also acknowledged God’s hand in crafting my life and my responsibility to do what was good and right both for my mother and for myself.

Eventually, I learned to pay less attention to my limiting memories and with God’s guidance, I embarked on forging a different path for my life. Older, married and with children of my own, our relationship changed. We became more like friends and we bonded at a deeper level.

She was apprehensive and paranoid about the new millennium and it held the one event she did not anticipate. In August 2000, a routine after-surgery-checkup turned into a massive heart attack—sudden, quick and fatal. She was gone and there was no time to say goodbye.

During the first year after her death, I often awoke in the middle of the night feeling such a tremendous sense of loss that I was powerless to control the flood of tears. In time, those nighttime episodes dwindled and eventually stopped. I settled into my life without my mother.

One day, I was reminiscing about the paths I travelled in my life. Naturally, I thought of my mother. Then suddenly, after years of feeling satisfied that I was nothing like her, the truth rose up from nowhere just like a whirlwind. I inherited much of my creativity, organized thinking and drive from my mother.

I had allowed my mother’s controlling nature to overshadow all that was beautiful and enduring about her. She was a woman of many gifts, an enormous zest for life, always on the go and ready to respond to anyone’s call for help. She was passionate about everything she did. The talents she possessed and shared with others fuelled her desire to do more, to be more creative. She was still controlling in the exercise of these gifts, but I suppose it was one aspect of being a creative soul. Wanting to see what she dreamed and envisioned materialize in every detail, just right and perfect.

She was a dreamer: Much to my father’s annoyance sometimes but that never stopped her for one second. She always talked about the things she wanted to do, and I saw her work towards and accomplish those goals. She always said that it cost nothing to dream so, dream she did.

She was a decorator: She kept a tidy and meticulously organized home and decorated it with items she made herself. She was an advocate of mixing and matching. Her first option was never to buy something but to use what she had on hand, or build it herself.

She was a gardener: Not only did she have a green thumb but green fingers, all ten of them. She never used gloves; she used to say that she loved to feel God’s earth in her hands. Every plant or clipping she touched, flourished and blossomed. Her garden was her passion. The small back yard was more like a forest than a garden because it seemed like every square foot featured a plant or tree. My father once said that if he stood quietly for too long she would plant something in his ear.

She was an event coordinator: She planned, organized and chaired many ladies‚ conferences and retreats for her church. She was a real one-woman show too. Even when she forced herself to delegate certain responsibilities to others, she kept a watchful eye over them to ensure that everything was done, as she wanted.

She was a writer: She wrote poetry and plays for the youths and women in her church. Armed only with the belief that she could sing, she wrote songs for the church choir.

My memory of her has changed. It no longer focuses on the negative. Now I remember her mainly as a woman, my mother, whose life was full, joyful, giving, and creative. I remember more of the good old days and the happy moments we shared, riddled with laughter, often at our own selves. Even the tough and painful instances I now recall with an appreciation for the lessons taught and learned. Still, the hymns she loved, reduce me to tears that leave me weak.

Now, when I look at my 56-year-old face in the mirror, I see my mother staring back at me and that’s okay. After all, I am my mother’s daughter and I am proud to be blessed with the legacy of creativity and wonderful memories she left behind.

 

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5 thoughts on “Blogathon 2012 – May 4 Honoring My Mother

  1. Sounds like you inherited many gifts and fine qualities from your mother. And I totally understand the difficulties of your relationship, as you noted. A wonderful piece and a valuable way of looking at your mother's gifts.

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  2. Cheryl,
    I am so very glad I read this this morning. It is a gorgeous portrayal of your mother and one that, I'm sure, was very healing for you to write. Our relationships with our mothers can be oh, so difficult and it makes my heart happy to know that even in her death you made peace with her and yourself. And that love blossomed anew!

    Great writing too. xo

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  3. You know Jan, every time I feel lost in some way, I think of my mother and read this piece. Oh the comfort and peace it gives. And I can move forward either with a solution to a problem, acceptance of some circumstance or just with the simple act of being still. And you know how important “being still” is to our comfort, peace and joy. Yes?

    Thanks for the response and comment on my writing. So appreciate it too.

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