Three lessons from my mother

Today’s post is written by one of my students, Jesse Shoemaker. Jesse wrote this essay in response to the prompt: Write about your mother or someone who has acted as a mother figure in your life. Describe this person and share at least three lessons you’ve learned from her.

Painting By Luplau Janssen

Painting By Luplau Janssen

My mother is a great influence in my life. She has always been there for me when I needed her to be. No matter what the circumstances might be, she always tries to find a way to fix my problem, even though I am resistant to the idea of help or advice.

My mother is a small woman. She has shoulder length hair that is coal black with heavy fades of brunette and blonde blended throughout. Her voice is slightly shrill considering she prefers to yell across the house to talk to someone rather than walk in the same room as they are and speak in a normal tone. Her eyes and mine are the same, heavy brown hazel that can change from green to brown to gold.

My mother loves to sing and dance. I remember as a child, when we would finish a movie as a family and the credits were rolling, she would jump up and grab my hands, pulling me off the couch and into a little dance we would go. She is so full of life.

When I was 11 years old, my mother was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a muscle disease, which later became neuropathy, a nerve disease. As I entered my teenage years, it seemed like she was at her worst. There were days that she could not get out of bed; most of the time she could not get around without the use of a walker, crutches, or a wheel chair. Even the softest touch from anyone could cause her to have an inflammation of tremendous pain. Even though she has endured so much pain on an everyday basis, my mother is still one of the sweetest ladies ever. I have had very few friends that dislike my mother, and the few who do just think she is too nice, and it freaks them out a bit.

One lesson I learned from my mother is to explore the world around me. When I was young and before she became sick, my mother would always take my sister and I on hiking trips, canoeing, or some other outdoor activity that we could do as a family. If it was not for my mother I would have never experienced the thrill of white water rafting or the rush of adrenaline I get when rock climbing.

The second lesson indirectly learned from my mother is to always let go of the past. When I was a teenager, and my mother was sick, my sister or I would have to stay home and take care of her while our step dad was working. Needless to say, I felt like part of my youth was taken away from me. I held a grudge for several years towards her, until finally we sat down and talked, and I finally vented what had been bothering me for so many years. It was as if a great weight had been lifted off my shoulders, and I could finally see some happiness and joy coming back into my life.

The last lesson I learned from my mother is to never give up on yourself or your dreams. Like I mentioned earlier, she was very sick for several years; however, she never gave up on trying to get better. My mother overcame significant weight gain from her sickness and is now a little older woman who likes to dig in her garden and work on as many projects as she can. It is as if she is trying to make up for all the years of not being mobile enough to do the things in life she enjoys.

My mother is a great influence on me. She has taught me to explore the world around me. She always reminds me to let the past go and, most importantly, to never give up on myself. I cannot think of any better lessons a mother could teach her son.

Seeds of life

*Thanks to Mary Agrusa for sharing her thoughts on Mother’s Day with us.*

Sometimes it’s the simple things we share with our children that have the most dramatic impact on their lives. Prior to and for a few years after the birth of our daughter, my husband and I were avid gardeners. Back in the early 70’s we faithfully read Rodale’s Organic Gardening and applied the lessons learned. We planted a wide variety of vegetables in the garden at our home and maintained an additional plot at a community site, specifically for growing corn. A move overseas followed by years of Florida living ended our gardening adventures.

Mikael's garden

Mikael’s garden

Our daughter grew up to be a confirmed urban dweller. She prefers the city to a more laid back country atmosphere. She surprised us two years ago when she shared that, along with a few friends, she had ventured into canning. Last summer she and her husband took the next step and secured a plot in one of Boston’s communal garden sites. Next, a request came for any canning supplies still in storage. We packed up our thirty-something year-old Victorio Strainer and sent it off to serve the next generation of family gardeners. She was ecstatic, and our old friend got a new lease on life.

Patriot’s Day is a state holiday in Massachusetts. It also marks the running of the Boston Marathon and the unofficial beginning of the gardening season. My daughter’s usual routine was to grab breakfast and head to the finish line to cheer the wheelchair and elite racers. Last year she called us all excited. “Turn on the TV and find the race coverage. I’m on the Jumbotron at the finish line.” We scrambled and searched sports channels and internet feeds, but alas, we missed her debut on the big screen.

This year, instead of being at “their spot” at the finish line, my daughter was at the garden. When I called to check on her, I was unprepared for the sound of her tearful, frightened voice. She couldn’t reach her husband. Her calls to his phone went to voicemail. She didn’t know if he had gone to the race, but if he had, he would have been at “their spot,” the scene of the first bomb explosion.

My heart sank. Thoughts of “what if” bombarded my mind. Fear attempted to grip my soul. Suddenly her voice changed. A text from her husband confirmed he was at home safe and sound. For our family, the day had a happier ending.

As a mother I can’t imagine the pain of losing a child. Our son-in-love is the son we never had. To lose him would’ve devastated all of us. Daily we pray angelic protection around them both, and the angels did their jobs that day. I wouldn’t have guessed that the seeds of gardening planted in our daughter’s life so long ago would bloom and not only produce a second generation of gardeners, but also one day save her life.