Being Like Your Parents

Perspective on February 17, 2013

I have never aspired to be like my Mom. Is that normal? My indictment of her was mostly because of her disregard for her health, meanwhile puffing away on 2 packs of Chesterfields daily and overeating fried food and junk food. She would ask me to promise never to put her in a nursing home which I resented. Then, complications from emphysema, 14 feet of gangrenous intestines and subsequent heart failure conspired in her early death at age 69. The unfortunate last visions in my memory are of her in the ICU and the fear in her eyes. I felt very alone then and my sorrow and guilt have stayed with me until the other day when I took a good look at the ‘story’ I’ve had about her for decades. Wounds like this don’t heal in the darkness of your heart, they need exposure and light and air and giving yourself a break. So seeing through different perspective spectacles, I’m writing about my mother Lynne, in tribute and confession of my compassion for this woman who carried me into this world. Maybe also this is to ward off the demons of destruction that I pray won’t repeat themselves in the way my kids see me now and when I’m in the Great Hereafter, for I had an irrational and judgmental grading curve for my mother. Until now…

Here in her honor are my confessions and celebrations:

  • Her laugh: I haven’t loved hearing that same laugh coming from me. What? That’s crazy! It was a cute little chuckle, not some howling attention starved shriek!
  • She was 4′ 10″ tall. So this is why wasn’t I born with long legs and fast metabolism!
  • Her lack of focus on her health has given me the great gift of dedication to living what I’ve learned and also my determination to not be a burden to my family because of my bad lifestyle choices.
   and the great stuff:
  • We both love butterflies and they are so symbolic. She always found them in her garden and they visit me in mine now.
  • We both are in love with nature, prefer being outside anytime.
  • We both love to learn and enjoy stimulating conversations and people.
  • She was a great seamstress and taught me to sew: always clip the threads and press open your seams. I made clothes for myself and my kids and now my daughter is a great seamstress.
  • My mom was very organized. I’m working on that one!
  • She wrote poetry and hilarious limericks! She was valedictorian of her class and a super smart lady!
  • She lived in Mexico City for 2 years, went there and learned Spanish, loved the Latin culture and now I’m studying Spanish!
  • She was a happy joyful person and had many many friends.
  • She loved a good challenging crossword puzzle with her morning coffee!
  • She had two gay guy neighbors who loved her and nurtured her. Once I got over my early Lutheran-programmed judgment, now some of my best and favorite people in my life are gay. And loyal.
  • She loved gardening, grew Peace roses and taught me the joy of planting  wonderful pots of geraniums and petunias each Spring.
  • She was extraordinarily responsible, was head of Human Resources for many companies and was a valued team member as far back as World War II when she was a secretary in the Air Force (where she met my Dad who was a pilot!).
  • She bought her own homes on her own salary.
  • She won jitterbug contests after she declined her full scholarship to college because she wanted to enjoy life in the big city of Denver. She replaced her very serious childhood with a joyful social life!
  • She adored her grandchildren although she left before having enough  time with them.

There is an important built-in mechanism to expand past your parents. We see flaws and shortcomings in them which is natural and important in order for our world to evolve and improve. By observing and living what you don’t like,  you consciously and unconsciously absorb those new distinctions, allowing you to make changes and leave your own signature on the world. My children share my curiosity about life and creativity and we all look to improve ourselves and contribute to the world through our individual perspectives, humor and generosity. I also know life has dealt all of us hardships which fuel the opportunity to grow in character and self respect. I see how much my Mom’s presence in my life has meant to me and who I’ve become. As I used to say to the Trainers at the Robbins Companies, it’s not so much what you know as who you’re being. This came from you, Mom.

Love,

Your admiring daughter, Becky

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