My mother, Jean Lavon Foote Upton, lived for 92 years, until November of 2013. For the past eight years, we had been mother and daughter roommates, living together in our little yellow house. One learns a lot from one's mother during the course of one's lifetime and also when living in such close proximity, and I relish the memories of having been able to do so. What did my mother teach me? Where do I begin?
As a child, my mother taught me I was special, that I was chosen. She taught me to be honest, to be obedient, and the value of saving part of my allowance. My mother was a woman of faith, and she taught me to sit quietly during church, to sing harmony, and about a God who loves us. She taught me to feel compassion, and I saw in her a level of dedication both to our family and to the people she served, that never waivered. As I grew older, I learned from my mother the meaning of going the extra mile, of doing my best and of completing a task.
My mother taught me the basics--how to make square corners, and why, how to sew, how to put on lipstick, the importance of keeping both hands on the wheel, and to put my headlights on even before it was dark enough to need do so. She taught me the importance of keeping things in order and of remembering the smallest detail when creating a budget, balancing a check book or making a list. She taught me that if I didn't have the money to pay for something, I couldn't buy it.
By her example, my mom encouraged me to nurture a generous spirit, and showed me that forgiveness allows one to move on in life. I learned the value of being content in the moment by watching her sweet spirit and feeling her sense of satisfaction. She encouraged me to see the humor in a situation even if on the surface, things looked a little grim.
Thinking, perhaps, my mother did some of her best teaching during the last few months of her life. Or, maybe, I was simply becoming a better listener. With grace, beauty and dignity, she faced the inevitable that each of us will one day face. With the patience of someone not in a hurry, she did her best to do all we asked of her--and somehow, in doing so, she became strong for all of us. When the time came, my beautiful mother continued on her journey, with a heart full of confidence there was a place already prepared for her.
It has been an honor, a joy, and a privilege to be my mother's daughter and I will be forever grateful for all the lessons, the laughter and the lifetime of love. How very blessed I am that she chose me.