Every time Mother’s Day comes around, for me it’s a day of honor and rememberance. I lost my mom in a car accident back in 1993, and although I’m coming up on twenty years of her being gone, it’s still a somber day for me. To think that I was sixteen when I lost her, and this July it will be nineteen years since she left this earth is almost unbelievable. I just keep thinking about how I’ve lived more of my life without her than with her.
I am well over the “what if” game, thinking endlessly about “what if” she would still be around; however, I think about all of the things I never got to talk to her about or ask her. I didn’t get a chance to thank her for being a great mom who enriched my life with some valuable life lessons. I know she’s around in spirit, and, in the “spirit” of Mother’s Day, I wanted to share with you the life lessons I learned from my mom.
Have a sense of humor about you, and take time to laugh. My mom was always goofing around and joking with her kids. A sense of humor and laughter are natural stress relievers, and I think back to my mom’s contagious laughter and silly personality very fondly. I firmly believe that I am the way I am in regard to my sense of humor and silliness largely in part due to the example my mom provided to me. I must be doing alright, since the first question I get out of my daughters’ mouths is frequently, “Are you just teasing?”
Be true to yourself. My mom, good and bad, was always the same person to everyone. She didn’t “kiss up” to people to get on people’s good side. She was the same person no matter where she was. She was true to herself — you always knew what you were getting. I see this in myself to this day. I am who I am, and I am proud of it. I don’t change who I am depending on the company I share.
Be the kind of parent who your children can trust and tell anything. All six of us children knew we could go to her and tell her anything. That didn’t mean we wouldn’t get in trouble, but she had a way of establishing trust with her children. Now that I have children, I work hard to instill this same type of trusting relationship across our family members. My wife and I want our girls to feel comfortable telling us things. We’re working hard on that now when they’re young so they grow up learning to communicate openly.
Always say goodbye pleasantly. You never know when your most recent conversation with someone will be your last. Given the sudden departure of my mom, I have learned to realize that it’s wise to always resolve disputes and arguments before you say goodbye. It may be the last one, and you don’t want to regret what you said or how you acted. Treat each conversation as if it were your last. Don’t forget to give goodbye kisses!
Every moment spent with your child and spouse is precious. You never know how long you are on this earth, so get the most out of your time with your loved ones, before you or one of them is no longer around.
Always wear your seatbelt. If I had not worn my seatbelt that July day in 1993, I would not be writing this post right now. My wife would never have known me, and my children would not have existed. It was just a fluke that I put my seatbelt on before we got in that accident, and if I hadn’t had it on, I would have been thrown heavens knows where in or out of that car.
Think of your legacy. How do you want to be remembered by those left behind when you are gone? I never thought of this until I started having children. Now, I think, “If I were to leave this earth today, how would people remember me?” I try to live each day as if it were my last — I try to live out the legacy I want to leave behind.
Sometimes absolutely great things come from unexpected places. I remember standing at the intersection where the accident occurred, thinking about how my life was going to change and how horrible things would be without my mom. I feared the unknown, and I expected the worst. The truth is that things usually don’t turn out to be as bad as we believe they will be, and sometimes absolutely wonderful and unexpected things result from disaster. I seriously doubt I would have met my wife if my mom were still alive today. I wouldn’t have come to know my precious children. Sometimes life throws us a curve ball or we face unexpected changes. Sometimes if we live in fear and fear the unknown, we miss out on the opportunities that lie undiscovered.
I miss my mom dearly. More days than not I think about her and the legacy she left behind. As painful as it was to lose her, I believe that my family was destined to learn valuable life lessons from this great loss. I know I have grown tremendously through this experience, and through this experience, I have taken it upon myself to share the lessons I learned with others. In a way, my life mission to help improve the lives of others is a way of honoring and thanking my mom for the great things she taught me, both when she was with me and after she left. For that, I am forever thankful, and forever indebted. Thanks Mom! I love you!