On February 20th, 2005 my mom died of a horrendous three-year, painful, tear jerking struggle with cancer. They say the good die young and if there’s anyone that I personally know or knew, my mom was ‘the good’. She made mistakes and she wasn’t Mother Teresa, but, in my eyes, she may as well have been. She loved life, she loved to help other people and, a lot of times, I miss the hell out of her for it.
Mom always made sure that I knew how to do these cleaning chores and trust me it wasn’t just vacuuming a room and making my bed. At different points, and much to my chagrin, I had to dust furniture, clean dirty toilets, clean floors, wipe windows, do laundry, and, to help you understand her attention to minute details, clean our white door frames of any and all pencil marks, scuffs, stains, spots, etc. It didn’t really matter how small or unnoticeable they were either! Her reasoning? Because, one day, there would be a girl out there who would really appreciate the fact that I knew how to do all these things. It was like all she was able to do was think of what she could do to make me a better person and set me up with a brighter, happier future.
My last really happy memory with the mom I grew up with came before her third and final stint in the hospital. We went out on a putt-putt golf outing just to be able to do something together. We decided not to outright concede victory, but instead just give mom a fighting chance by throwing a few rules her way. Well, actually, she made sure that the rules went her way. The “club’s length” for mom meant she deserved a full club’s length instead of just the head of the putter. Anyway, we played together and she finally ended up winning on the last hole!
More than anything, my mom taught me, my brothers, and my dad about the delicacy, beauty, and true meaning of life. She mediated arguments, stopped fights, and did more than just hold my hand through many, many tears. She kept my whole family together, much to her own sacrifice, but she did it anyway. If anything, my mom can know that she made me the person I am today. She taught me to hug, told me it was okay to cry, showed me compassion by example, and, in the end, made me realize that legacy goes hand in hand with happiness.
If there’s one thing about everything associated with happiness it’s that, when it’s all said and done, our striving for happiness has everything to do with the one thing that lives on after we die—our legacy.
When it’s all said and done, others will look at how successful you were at attaining happiness, not money. They will be forced to really sit down and think about your life and think about their own. Trust me, I know.
Will they stop and ask themselves exactly what your legacy is and question their own lives simultaneously?
Yes, they will.
If we focus on what’s wrong with our life, we get caught up in our worries. If we fail to accept our current state and our life, we allow our potential for happiness to slip right by us. Worrying about how our past will affect us and what our future holds only hinders us from allowing our present state to be appreciated and enjoyed. Once upon a time, I would have never guessed my own mother would have died of cancer. And, now, I have no idea how this event will continue to shape my life in the future. All I can do is accept this fact, as well as others, and know, that in some way, these events will continue to mold me into the person I will continually grow to be.
It’s been almost a year and it’s been the longest, hardest, saddest, happiest, most influential year of my life. Mom’s life taught me all that it could, but her death taught me what no person in the world could teach me. To be able to say that is a complete and total testament to the person and mom she was.
I believe in the power, love, and beauty of a mom.
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