Looking in the mirror these days I find an image that is so very familiar to me. Yes, I know the image in the mirror is me, but if I look closely at my eyes, my cheekbones, my mouth, and even my neck, I can see another familiar face. When did my features change? And when did I begin to look so much like the most important woman in my life—my mother?
Strong, outspoken, friendly, humorous, strict, principled, devoted, smart, and generous are just a few of the words to describe her. She had a strong faith in God that sustained her when she moved from the south to Cincinnati as a young woman, leaving my oldest sister in the care of our maternal grandmother until she could provide for them both. She relied on that same faith when she raised six young children alone after she and my father separated. My mother only completed the eighth grade, but she encouraged all of us to complete high school and to seek a higher education. Her generous and compassionate ways were instrumental in me pursuing a career in social work.
For some time now I have heard my mother’s voice in many of the things I say, particularly to my nieces and nephews and other people so much younger than me. It was startling at first because it wasn’t so long ago that I remember saying “I’ll never say many of the things my mother said to me.” Never say never, because it will surely make you out to be a liar.
I came to treasure the many words of wisdom my mother shared with me as I was growing up, and I’m grateful to have them to draw upon in these uncertain days and times.
As I approach 50, I have begun to notice that my mother’s words of wisdom are not the only characteristics I carry of her. My mother wasn’t what you would call beautiful by today’s standards, but she was regal, classy, and a “one of a kind” original masterpiece. Her features are now woven into my face—a lasting and undeniable connection to the woman who shaped the woman I have become today.
My mother passed away in March of 1997, and there isn’t a day that I don’t think about her and long to hear her voice or see her face. But I’m so proud to carry my mother’s memory not only in my heart but on my face for the whole world to see. This I believe and know….I am my mother’s daughter in so many wonderful ways.