Mom, it’s only been through taking the writing you left for us, transcribing it and setting photos to it, that I’ve fully grasped the magnitude of your legacy. Your family has learned so many lessons of love from you.
I always knew your love was there. When I was young I guess I took it for granted, like kids tend to do. But being a Mom myself, I see it clearly now. We get the best and the worst of our children and no matter how we handle the behaviour, we always forgive. You were the best at it, Mom – loving and forgiving my sisters and me, over and over again.
If you take the kind of love you only get from a mom, then heap on a whole lot more, we have your legacy. Your love was large and whether I sat beside you on the couch or thought about you distantly from across a province, I could feel it.
At your 70th birthday party one of the guests told me he could feel the love in the room. He was right. It was the love my sisters and I felt our whole lives. We were used to it and were naïve enough to think that all children grew up with it.
We were special in your eyes and we knew it. Our friends saw it, too and many of them wanted to adopt you as their own. You loved them all.
Your loving spirit made you a dedicated nurse. Looking forward to the reunions of valued, long-term nursing friends from your graduating class, you wrote,
“My classmates arrived Friday afternoon and we had a marvelous weekend reminiscing over the past 52 years – laughing over the same stories we laugh over every time we are together – admiring pictures of our families, and marveling over how close our friendships have been over all these years.”
The lesson – Relationships bonded with love are everlasting.
Your loving spirit was tested when you and Dad divorced. You could have let your world fall apart, Mom, but instead you gathered us close. You wrote,
“At the beginning I felt that I had to get on with my life – going out to clubs occasionally and even singles’ dances. I soon realized that was not the life I was seeking. …I have treasured my “alone” time. I see my children and grandchildren often…”
The lesson – Family priorities rise out of love.
And through your divorce, you learned forgiveness. In an unsent letter to my dad, you wrote,
“Finally when you were booked for surgery, it was a wake-up call for me. I thought that if something happened to you and I still had this anger, I didn’t think I’d be able to live with myself. It was at this point that I wrote you a note, wishing all went well with your surgery and to forgive you for leaving us. …. I felt a burden had been lifted….”
The lesson – The only way to forgive is through love.
Getting on with life and forgiving meant embracing family. You committed yourself to four daughters. And when we grew into our adult lives, of course, you experienced your own version of the empty nest.
“Time was always running out – never time to sit and relax – to determine where my life was going. Finally, as the girls all grew up and were making their own lives – I realized that I could take time to do some of the things I had always wanted to do – and that peace I had always searched for was available – the calming of emotions.”
The lesson – Focus some love on yourself.
Even after we left home, you were always there for us with a willingness to jump as high as needed.
As each grandchild came along, you shared that love. You took time with each of them individually and instead of your love spreading thin, it grew.
“Twenty-three years ago my life changed so much with the arrival of my first granddaughter and consequently, seven more grandchildren. These grandchildren have been the light of my life – each in their own way. ….as a group they have brought me so much joy. I have tried to spend one-on-one time with each of them and treasure those times. They never leave without saying, ‘I love you, Grandma.’ And I thank God for each and every one of them.”
“I’ve always told my grandsons to never get too old to give their grandmother a hug. – To this day – I get hugs from each and everyone of my grandsons.”
The lesson – Love and gratitude go hand-in-hand.
Mom, I might not have shown it but I always appreciated your offers to help with my babies. When I insisted I could manage by myself, which was often, you stood back to wait while I decided I needed you. You were gracious.
You were always suggesting my sisters and I rest when we didn’t see for ourselves that we needed it. You were insistent that our best was good enough and wished we could see that for ourselves, too. You were encouraging.
You were quietly exceptional and didn’t take up a lot of space in the world. But, what you gave us all in life and left us with afterward is great and big. Mom, you showed us how to love. Yours was free flowing and bottomless. It’s not a complicated legacy but through your words and actions we got it.
The Lesson – Unconditional Love.
We needn’t ask whether you’ll be ours. We know you are. Quite simply, you were everyone’s Valentine, Mom. Lessons of true love have come from you and we are blessed.
We are forever yours.