Tomorrow would be my mother’s “plenty-ninth” birthday. She had a lot of those. If you think that’s not normal, then you didn’t know my mom: she was exceptionally “normal”, yet there was not much normal about her. In fact, as I sit here remembering my mom, there’s one thing about her that I think was completely abnormal.
And for that, I’m eternally grateful.
Ever So Normal
To anyone who met my mom, this will be no surprise whatsoever. For those of you who didn’t have the privilege, let me tell you how abnormal my mom was. Every time anyone asked her how she was she would always say “I’m normal”. Our house was littered with stickers, and cozies, and knick knacks that people would give her that had some version of her favorite catchphrase on them.
Despite what she said, she was anything but. Sure, she did a lot of normal things at the time. She stayed home and took care of the kids. She made dinner every day and kept a clean house. She drove the kids to school and packed lunches every day.
But there was so much she did that was not normal. When someone treated her poorly, she treated them with kindness, knowing that we all have bad days, bad experiences, and make bad choices. When people spoke badly about someone else, she would find something positive to say about that person without condemnation of them or the person who spoke out of turn.
She always saw the best in people. It may not have been normal, but when remembering my mom, I realize that she thought it should be.
Our home was constantly filled with people. Whether it was a get-together after church, a special event, someone staying with us who had come to speak at the church, or just one of the many people who lived with my parents as they needed a place to stay. I can’t remember the last time my parents didn’t have an out of state family member or a person who needed a little boost staying with them.
It wasn’t just the people in their house. My parents were always visiting others in the hospital, in their homes, or stopping in the middle of dining out to go over to the table of someone they knew to say “hi”. I don’t know that they ever ate a restaurant meal without greeting at least one person, if not several.
Even over the phone my mom was comforting. Remembering my mom meant remembering her on the phone while cooking, cleaning, or doing other household chores encouraging, praying with, or simply enjoying the company of someone else.
I guess, when it all comes down to it, the one thing I remember most about my mom is not one single thing, but many.
All the Things about My Mom
It’s easy to remember my mom being “normal” or hospitable. It’s not surprising to think of her being kind to everyone and always being ready and willing to help. It’s completely expected to look back on the way she treated everyone as she wanted to be treated.
What’s unexpected – what’s completely abnormal – is the way that anyone can’t think of my mom in any way other than with deep admiration. When I take a look at all the facets of who my mom was, how many people she interacted with, how much time she spent nurturing and loving people, I can only see someone with nothing but love.
Remembering my mom means remembering nothing but goodness, wholesomeness, and love. That’s not because she’s my mom; that’s because that’s who she was.
My sister Shannon recently told me about an interaction she had with my mom. She was frustrated that my mom was overtaxed and people were asking more of her than Shannon thought they should. She tried to clue her in, but was not making headway. Finally she blurted out “Mom! They’re using you!”
My mom simply looked at Shannon with that kind and wholesome smile that anyone who ever interacted with my mom knows all too well and said “You can’t be used when you’re giving yourself away”
Remembering My Mom
Tomorrow my mom would be “plenty-nine”. I know she used that phrase as a humorous way to dodge revealing her age, but I think it’s fitting. As I think of my mom and all she gave, I can’t think of a more appropriate way to say it: plenty.
I hope you had the privilege of meeting my mom. I am blessed beyond measure for having wonderful parents. If you’ve met them, I’m sure you feel blessed beyond measure as well.
But they are gone, and there are still people hurting, having a bad day, and needing comfort. Today is a great day to be abnormal – or better yet – to take what’s not normal and make it normal. Today is a great day to, in whatever way you can, help carry the torch of kindness, compassion, and love.
As you are remembering my mom today, find your way to make the life she lived a “normal” part of yours in whatever way you can. Even if we all do a little, we still might find it adds up to plenty.