Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What My Mommy Taught Me

My mother is still full of vim and vigor at 70-odd years of age.  I won't tell you how old she is because I can't remember and perhaps she doesn't want the world to know...

Whatever the case, my mommy is still full of piss and vinegar and wakes up ready to take on the world every single day.  The only difference is that these days she gets to indulge in sleeping-in, something she always yearned for when I was a child, but was rarely able to avail herself of given her high maintenance children, keeping up with the farm tasks, making oatmeal for the household and all the stray barn cats, etc.

What my mother possesses more than pretty much anyone I have ever met in my life (and this includes high flying CEO types and stressed-out, overworked teachers and postal delivery people) is work ethic. She ran the household, managed a farm with my dad, had a garden the size of an airport runway, baked everyday, made every meal from scratch (and usually from our animals and our produce) and kept our house ship shape.

 The difference between my mother's work ethic and those of countless others, however, is she did (and still does) it all with a smile and a cheerful attitude.

My mother is a born optimist.  She was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth nor has she led a life of great privilege or perfect circumstances.  She's been through World War II, immigrated to Canada lost a sister during the war, started a whole new life as a German teenage girl with no English, and fell in love with the handsome (and still haired) father of mine after he wooed her persistently and she finally gave in.  They've been happily married for 50 years this year.

She's a survivor of cancer and of many of the other slings and arrows that life throws at us all eventually.  She's a lover, though, not a fighter.  My mom has always been one to accept her circumstances and to "go with the flow."  It's like she's taken that song, "Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream; merrily, merrily, merrily merrily; life is but a dream" as the theme song for her life.

Flowing down that river of life and not swimming against the current has not always been my strong suit, but I'm starting to catch on.  I'm trying to hitch myself onto that boat she rows and floats down with because, by golly, she's moving faster with the less effort than just about anyone I've ever known.

Unlike my mother, I am a born pessimist, but a learned optimist, in large part thanks to her.  The deepest, darkest parts of me seep out of me much less often than they used to.

Unfortunately, another dissimilarity between my mother and me is that I have not inherited her work ethic, especially in terms of domesticity.  The genetic pool for working hard thinned out in the next generation, at least it did with me.  (My sister and brother, I think, have it in spades.)  I prefer to gaze at the beauty of other people's gardens and enjoy beautiful cooking not prepared by me.  That's not to say that I don't work hard occasionally, but it doesn't come with the energy and pleasure that it appears to accompany my mother with.

I know it's not quite mother's day yet, but this is a salute to my Mommy who has taught me the greatest lesson in life: to look on the bright side (even when there isn't one), and carry on with a smile.

Every day I think of my mother and resolve to look for the best in all people and all circumstances, just as she does. She is always in my heart.

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