Mom Taught Me Gratitude

Mom & Me, Circa 1992

Mom & Me, Circa 1992

My gratitude diaries, like the shelves of my food pantry, provide staples for nourishment. By putting pen to paper, I note the ingredients—the essentials of the event or situation, which are stirred into a reflective mix and stored by date for future use.

On March 14th last year, I wrote: Is there more to writing about gratitude than the simple act of writing? Each entry marks a point in time— to be recognized, acknowledged and pondered. It is a way to separate the wheat from the chafe, which, in this speed-word driven culture is essential to my slowing down, reflecting and deliberating.

A full year later, my thoughts are the same, only more so. With the promise of an upcoming April birthday, I am aware of time passing. My mother died at 93; and I have every hope of reaching her mark or beyond. She and dad were close-knit, a traditional couple. Dad was the provider and Mom’s life was filled with tending to the care of her family and home. A widow for eleven years after Dad’s passing, she spoke with me often about loneliness.

I suggested she start a diary to put down and express what she was feeling. Mom found comfort in writing— at first, daily, then once a week and then intermittently for three years. From 1986 to 1989, she wrote in pen in graceful delicate script on lined composition paper. She numbered each page at the top and dated each entry.

Though lonely, she often wrote about her sense of gratitude. She struggled with physical issues—high blood pressure and heart disease—but along with concerns for her health, her wish for independence, her grandchildren’s choices, she wrote about being grateful, especially for the presence of her children, her appreciation of their care and concern.

I cherished the candor of her words. As she aged, she became more outspoken about her needs and wishes. As her eldest daughter, I felt inspired to help her live out her life in the way she desired. Her greatest wish was to age at home and most of all, to be of little worry to her children. At the age of 89, she wrote:

One more week in August, and summer will be over. It was a good one for me. I was able to do some things, which I was not capable of for some time and I am very grateful. I just hope and pray it should continue, as it is a good feeling to be able to act on one’s own.

After several worrisome falls, Mom agreed to a live-in companion. My parents, especially my dad, were frugal. Mom was grateful for his ability to earn and to save.

In her mind, during the years of her widowhood, he continued to provide for her. She expressed gratitude openly, both verbally and in her writing. In her final days, she got her wish; she lived out her life and ultimately died, with the help of Hospice, in her own home.

 

 

10 thoughts on “Mom Taught Me Gratitude

  1. Patricia Rogers

    Faye…so love that picture, wondering if it’s at a wedding, .beths??? But so touched by your words of “gratitude” for your mother and who she was, what she meant to you. Then in her final darker days you could come to help her …really beautiful.

    1. fayewriter Post author

      Pat, yes, it was Beth’s wedding. I was grateful for her presence. It was a happy day. Appreciate your taking time out to comment so generously.

    1. fayewriter Post author

      Randall, I am moved by your words and pleased you like the picture. It’s one of my favorites. Thank you!

  2. Beverly Bader

    What a beautiful essay about a mother’s and daughter’s strong connection. I love that your mother taught you about gratitude, and that she, herself, was grateful to live her life with dignity and satisfaction in her old age. I was touched by her willingness to write her feelings down in her later years, and that you now have this “treasure” that she left for you. Your mother was courageous, strong, and direct with her feelings. As I gaze warmly at both of your faces, the resemblances are like both of you playing a duet about the coming of spring.

    1. fayewriter Post author

      Thank you, Bev, for your tender and appreciative words. The picture was taken in spring!

  3. Rosemary Booth

    I’m stunned by this striking photo, as well as the beauty and fortitude of womanly spirit being described. Two generations of courage and–yes–gratitude, both captured in writing! I also appreciiate the portrait of mother-daughter ties, their clear and lasting strength…

    1. fayewriter Post author

      Thank you, Rosemary— the photo is one of my favorites. I’m very appreciative of your comments and especially the phrase “womanly spirit” which, in retrospect, seems like an apt title!

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