After my mother’s passing, my sister and I connected with so many family members and friends who would repeatedly, without fail, use the same words in their stories about her: straight-talker, loved to serve, kind, encouraging, supportive, sassy, proud, interested, encouraging, positive, loving, inviting, a teacher, a mentor, gives advice (whether we want it or not), laughing, cheering, direct, beautiful and wise. And of course, most people would mention “the look”.
Traci and I knew this one well…grandkids too. We were somewhat relieved to know that we weren’t the only ones receiving it.
You could always count on her to tell you how it is…or at least how she thought it should be. She had strong opinions on everything from how we should be raising kids in today’s world to whether or not every room should have at least one table lamp. And then, when she figured out this whole social media thing….and now she could share her opinion….immediately….and to a multitude of people simultaneously?! Oh…it was ON.
Previously, I had sent my sister a screen shot of a twitter war my mom was trying to start …..with the Governor of Texas! And then we came across some heated emails she sent to Senator Ted Cruz. We laughed about it, but I was oddly very proud of her. And also just hoped she wasn’t getting herself on some government watch list.
Her enthusiasm for sports was legendary. As children, Traci and I could always count on Mom being in the stands of whatever sport we were doing for every game or meet, or sitting in the audience for hours and hours of dance recitals and competitions or musical performances. She was always present, in body and in spirit. But when she had grandchildren, she did the impossible and upped her game.
She came to cheer with spirit gear – a stadium seat with matching umbrella and tote bag in the appropriate team colors, blinged out in spirit wear and her unwavering spirited attitude. She was never afraid to let those officials know that should’ve been a holding call, or he was in fact fouled, or no, that was most definitely NOT a catch and yes, that totally was a charge. I’m not sure what was more entertaining….the game or watching Mom cheer!
She always did the best she could given whatever it was she had or whatever circumstance she was in. She taught us about breaking boundaries, challenging traditions and standing up for what we believed in. I won’t say she never complained, but she certainly wasn’t afraid of hard work especially if it was for someone she cared for or a cause she cared about. She set the bar high for herself and expected nothing less from those around her as well. And just when you thought you were crushing it, she’d raise it some more.
I remember being so excited in high school after receiving early admissions and a full scholarship to UT, I thought I was done and ready to rock on the whole college admissions thing. But no….Mom grounded me for 2 weeks until I finished applications for at least 3 ivy league schools. I ended up getting in to Stanford but with less than a full scholarship. For the next 4 years, Mom worked as a school nurse at Lake Travis High School during the week and an ER nurse at Seton Hospital every weekend. That degree is every bit as much hers as it is mine.
My Mom’s love ran deep and wide. She modeled the true definition of faith and service. She gave freely and generously of her time, her treasure and her talent. This became more evident once she retired. We all thought she was going to slow down in retirement, but instead she ramped it up!
When she wasn’t traveling the world with some group of friends, you might could find her feeding the hungry through Meals on Wheels or Church events, or standing up for the underserved as a CASA rep or voter registration volunteer, or even scouring every Target and Walmart across Austin to find all the red folders with 3-brads or whatever else was needed for Oak Springs Elementary backpacks with her sorors of AKA.
On any given day, she was skirting around town checking in on friends who might be ill or bed-ridden making sure they were taking their medicines, getting mobile, rehabbing some body part or their soul or both, or not letting their kids drive them crazy or just spending time in fellowship with them. And we all know, she wouldn’t have had it any other way.
At first I thought when she passed, she was gone. But I look around my community and you know see what I see? I see people who she helped go to school. I see people who she nursed back to health. I see people who worked side by side, arm and arm on hot days or cold nights so other less fortunate could have access to the resources they need not just to survive but to flourish and grow. I see people who picked our mom up when she was down or even carried her when she could not make her own way. I see traces of my Mom in all of her friends, sorors, and co-workers. She has touched and shaped their lives in some way just as they had touched hers.
Yes, she has a legacy in my sister and I and her four grandchildren, but you all are her legacy too. I hope you will join me in honoring her by serving and paying it forward just as she did.
Romans 12:6-8 says “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
Or as some of my friends and I ask each other, “What is your super power?” because each of you have it. And when you figure it out, let’s do this super hero mashup phrase I say to my kids, “With great power, comes great responsibility. So, use your powers for good and not evil.”
Together we can make a difference in ourselves, in each other and in our communities. I believe that’s what my mom would want us all to do. Besides, if it wasn’t, we all know full and well, she would have found a way to tell me so.
Love you Mom.