Today is my mom's birthday. I got to do lunch with her this afternoon, and now she is spending time at my cousin's house who recently lost her husband. My mom is helping with dinner, cleaning up dishes, playing games with children, getting jammies on, reading bedtime stories. When I heard my mom was spending her birthday evening helping someone else out, I wasn't surprised. Not in the least bit.
My mom and I are the exact same personality types (ESFP) which means that when I was growing up we would sometimes butt heads. Have you ever tried arguing with yourself? It's exhausting! You don't get anywhere!
As I've grown, though, I have been so pleased to see some of my mom's qualities in me. I got from her my work ethic, my competitive spirit, my loyalty to family and friends. (I also got from her my driving record, my fear of missing out, and my intense sweet tooth.)
When my dad died unexepectedly, my mom's world was completely turned upside down. He had just sold his medical practice and they were planning to go on an LDS mission together in six months. In a moment, all of my mom's plans for the future changed.
I think it would have been really easy for my mom to feel sorry for herself. That kind of grief can be crippling for some. People would say to my mom "Your husband's mission is now in heaven" and I remember my mom telling me, "Yes, but what about me? What about my mission?"
In those months and years since my dad died, I have watched my mom devote her life to serving others. She has volunteered to help missionaries who were struggling to read. She works in an LDS temple. She serves in her neighborhood. She makes huge pots of soups and took dinner to people who just moved in, people who just had a baby, people who were struggling or sad. She spends lots and lots of time with her grandchildren. She started a book club with other ladies her age who don't have husbands. She fills her life with others and with others' needs. (Oh, and she goes on a tropical vacation once a year with her other single friends. She never forgets to have fun!)
I'm so grateful to look at my mom and the way she has always lived her life, but especially the way she has lived her life in the wake of my dad's death. I believe strongly in the power of serving amidst our own suffering. My mom has been the greatest example of it that I could hope for. Her life is filled with the concerns and needs of others and I love her for it. I love her for showing me the way. For showing me how to think about others.
For showing me how to be strong.
Other posts about my mom are here and here. She is so great.
(I am moving book club to next Wednesday, November 18. That means you still have time to read "And Then There Were None." Can't wait to hear your thoughts on it!