The many little things that mothers do shape personality and character in their children. I thank God for the mother who gave birth to me. Besides the gift of life, my mother instilled in me values that I treasure.
After Sumas Lake—in southern British Columbia between Abbotsford and Chilliwack—was drained, my father and two of his brothers secured acreage on which to farm. Anyone who has grown up on a dairy farm knows that the work is never done and that almost as soon as a child is able to walk, he/she is conscripted into service. No, it is not child labour, it’s character development!
Many times, when school mates enjoyed after-school soccer or basketball practice, I had to be home, doing my chores. Many Saturdays, while my friends were fishing or just hanging out together, I was at home cleaning out calf pens or chicken barns!
At the time, I likely complained some—probably a lot—but the grit, stamina and work-ethic garnered by the discipline armed me for later success. No regrets!
During the 1950’s, refugees from the Korean War showed up in our area to work in the large hop fields nearby. (The female flower of the hop vine is used as a flavoring and stabilizing agent is beer; it creates the bitter, tangy taste.)
One Sunday afternoon, a frail, slightly-bent visitor shuffled into our yard. Plainly dressed in ‘charity’ clothes, he looked like a character out of a children’s picture book.
Wide-eyed, I watched him approach my mother, who happened to be feeding the chickens. With a welcoming smile, she greeted him as though he were a long-time friend. Animated gestures and strained words—Korean and English intermingled—followed as the two struck up a ‘conversation’. An hour or two later, Mr. Lee left beaming and clutching a bag of fresh brown eggs.
Mr. Lee became a regular visitor and a special friend. My mother said simply, “I understand what it feels like to be in his shoes.”
She had fled for her life during Stalin’s brutal pogroms in Russia, across eastern Europe in boxcars during the bitter cold of winter, arriving finally after an arduous trek, a refugee in Canada. I’ve never had to endure the trauma my mother went through, but from her I learned the grace of friendliness.
My mother’s friendliness began with empathy—the grace to walk in someone’s shoes in order to understand what they are feeling. Then, she built bridges that connect rather than walls that separate. Third, my mother continually affirmed and validated. In my mother, the hopeless and broken found a listening ear, an understanding heart, and someone who would walk with them through the process of healing. Finally, my mother had the grace to overlook faults and forgive. She searched for and focusing on the good in people. She truly believed good triumphs over evil and mercy over justice.
Rich, poor, race, color, creed—all were welcome in my mother’s circle of friendship. I decided early in my life, that I wanted that grace. I have been greatly enriched as a result.
I honor 4 award-winning mothers: (1) Miriam, who like my mother has enriched the lives of our children & grandchildren; (2) Rachel & (3) Rebekah, our 2 daughters who are great mothers; and (4) Nichole, our daughter-in-law, & also a great mother. Blessings to you all…
Image courtesy Witthaya Phonsawat / FreeDigitalPhotos.net