This I Believe

Anita - Lake Wales, Florida
Entered on March 12, 2007

I believe in hard working lazy people. I believe this because my mother was a notoriously hard worker and expected no less of us. She had no tolerance for what she saw as laziness. She was a tiny woman with an enormous personality. Her energy was legendary.

I’ve often told the story of a Saturday morning at home. Mom always had a list of chores for my sister and me to do. My sister was the picture of industriousness, never slowing and certainly never stopping. I, however, ran at a different speed. After working for a couple hours, I reached the point in my chores of cleaning the family room. This assignment was probably a mistake on my mom’s part, though I would never have had the nerve to tell her she made a mistake. As I entered the cool, darkened room the television called to me and I sat down to rest for a few minutes. Very shortly, Mom entered the room. I so clearly recall her words: “Are you finished?” she asked, although she already knew the answer. “I’m tired” I answered her, sure of my right to rest. “I didn’t ask you if you’re tired; I asked you if you’re finished.” That statement, along with the look on her face raised me from my restful state and returned me to my chores.

As I’ve grown older, my mother’s words often replay in my mind. As I sat working on a school project that I’d put off until the last minute, her words reminded me that I wasn’t finished until the project was finished; no matter how tired I was. In various jobs over the years, her voice was the motivation behind the hours worked past quitting time to make sure the job was finished. When, at age 35 I bought a business and went to work for myself, I know it was my mother’s voice that I heard when I was so tired, but not yet finished.

Mom died recently, and her last few months were spent living with me. I remember coming home from work and dragging through the door knowing I needed to fix dinner and throw a load on laundry into the washer and get her medicine for the evening. Even though Mom knew how tired I was, she never said “sit down, rest”, until she knew my work was done. Then, she would brag about how hard I worked and tell me how proud she was. I remember saying, “Mom, I’m just lazy; I just want to sit down”. My mom told me “It’s okay to be lazy, as long as you work hard.”

So, I attribute my success in life to the work ethic instilled in me by my mother. Her example as well as her words have kept me motivated. I’ll probably always be lazy, but I know you don’t quit when your tired; you quit when you’re finished.