|My mom and I in Caesarea of Phillipi May 2010|
From my earliest memory mom always got up and cooked my brother and I breakfast. And I mean always! This wasn't just something to put in our stomachs, this was a well-balanced and healthy meal consisting of protein and complex carbohydrates, accompanied by fresh-squeezed juice or a half a fresh grapefruit; and of course our daily vitamins! Since studying food and becoming a nutritionist several years back (imagine why!) I have asked her how she knew what to feed us and how she figured out things such as, butter is better than margarine, whole wheat is better than white bread, a bit of protein is essential at every meal as is something raw (fruit, veggies, or anything providing live enzymes) Of course we had to eat everything on the plate too "because there were starving children in other parts of the world"... As a result, one value she passed on to me was to never be wasteful. We didn't struggle with weight issues because the food was nutrient dense and once we finished our chores (my main one was ironing...yuck!) we "played"outside instead of watching television, using computers, cell phones, or any other electronic devices that may have caused us to be lazy. Laziness was never tolerated! We weren't allowed soft drinks except on rare occasion during family pizza nights. We also had to ask if we wanted to snack in between meals. She also knew that we needed at least 8 hours of sleep and she firmly enforced a bedtime for more years than I want to tell you about! We weren't allowed to watch more than a few hours of t.v. a week, while sitting at least five feet from the television so as not to wreck our eyes and our overall health (how did she know about electro-magnetic fields back then?!) And, believe it or not, my mom put out which clothes we were allowed to wear to school until I was in the 6th grade. One time when mom was working out of town I convinced my Grandma that it was okay for me to wear my new, fringed, white leather moccasins to school. This was not at all true because Mom did not consider those to be appropriate school clothing. I thought I would get away with the trickery until it rained that day and I ruined my moccasins. Of course mom found out and not only did I lose them to damage but I also was grounded for a week as a result of disobeying her.
All of these family guidelines and rituals were intentional and I've implemented plenty of them while raising my own children but there's another type of legacy that was passed on to me. This includes values and habits that mom really didn't talk about but instead modeled. Intrinsic, non-negotiable core values and a deep sense of commitment that I rely on even today when times in life get tough and I feel like running away!
My mom was a single mom through most of my teenage years. My dad was killed in a car accident when I was just thirteen and my brother only ten. After that tragic event I watched her expand her skills, roll up her sleeves, and get to work in whatever ways necessary in order to keep meals on the table, our mortgage paid, and good clothes on our backs. She never rested and she certainly didn't ever feel sorry for herself. I now appreciate that it was a very difficult time for such a young woman whose children had lost their Dad but she showed us daily how very much we had left.
From sun up to sundown, her work ethic was second to none. Her strength of character in speaking the truth in love was not always appreciated but as I get older I know that mom has never been one to talk behind someones back, instead she will always tell it to their face! She sewed the most beautiful and stylish dresses for almost every one of my high school dances and she often hosted the pre-dance dinner party in our home, setting the tables with her best china and spending hours preparing and serving the food. I will never forget her "cherries jubilee" desert that she so lovingly prepared one year.
All of this work ethic and true grit as such a young mom too. She was only sixteen when she married my dad and just eighteen when I was born. At thirty-one she was left alone to raise two young children who would soon turn into mischevious teenagers. The trials we put her through must have been really difficult to face alone. I know I had a full-time husband around when I was raising my children and even then it was never easy.
I watched mom persevere and never quit. She worked full-time and did whatever she could to support us and she never did anything less than excellent. She read Christian self-help books and taught us about being positive and always looking for the best in people. She strove for greatness, as she does to this day.
I'm sure she spent many painful nights suffering alone or questioning God in the quietness of her room, but she never burdened us with her sadness. Instead she put on an "I can conquer anything" attitude, and she did! She gave selflessly to my brother and I and we always new we were loved. Through it all, every day, bright and early, exhausted from work or not, she faithfully cooked our great breakfast, squeezed and poured our juice and made sure we took our vitamins.
What a legacy...what a mom! Thank you God.
He is blessing you! Donna