Like most people this last Sunday, I celebrated Mother’s Day by cooking her breakfast and taking my her and the kids to dinner. We all had a great time, and I can tell that she really enjoyed herself. It was the least I could do for someone that does so much for us. But, this was the first year I couldn’t call my mom and wish her a happy Mother’s Day. She unfortunately last year before the holidays from cancer, and this was the first Mother’s Day without her. While I grieved over it, I still honored my mom for all the memories we had and all the lessons she taught me.
One thing she taught me could be based by the famous quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., and I’m paraphrasing, “Judge someone not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”. She had many friends of different ethnicities, races, and religions, never calling them her “black” friends or her “Jewish” friends, but just her friends. This was an important lesson, especially for today, because as hard as King worked to desegregate society, we’ve now done our best to segregate ourselves again. We find ourselves associating with people just because they look a certain way, or speak a certain language, or believe in a certain religion, and then develop opinions of others outside of our “group” based on stereotypes. Then, we all of a sudden wake up one day and realize that we don’t have any “black” friends, or Mexican” friends, or “gay” friends, and then try to find people to fill that void so we’re not called a “racist”. I’ve never had this problem. I have friends of different races, religions, ethnicities, and orientations, and none of it matters to me. My mom taught me first to get to know people, find out who they are, and then based on their character decide if they’re worth being your friend.
My mom also taught me it’s not what you have that’s important, but the people in your life and the memories you make with them. I love making new memories, going on vacations, coaching sports with my kids, watching them perform in plays and concerts. My mom didn’t argue or whine about all the activities her kids did growing up. She would actually drive us to baseball games, plays, movies, everywhere, and sit in the front row to cheer us on. She would sometimes work two jobs, as much as fourteen hours a day, just to buy Christmas presents or a trip to Disneyland. She also made sure that we had a roof over our heads, food in our stomachs, and that the power was always on. Her kids were the most important thing, raising three kids on her own, and sometimes sacrificed her own needs for ours. At the end of her life, it was the memories that we had, and have, that keeps her alive to us. We talk about the good and bad times and everything in between, because at the end of it, it’s all we have. No car or house or giant flatscreen can take the place of our family and friends.
While I go through the first year of her death, there will be more moments where I will sit back and remember her and the lessons she gave me. Now my job is to pass on these lessons to my own kids, leaving some of her legacy to them.