The Important Things

Happy Mother's day card with colorful tulips

I remember coming home from church on Mothers’ Day, looking forward to dinner and Mom’s surprise when she opened her presents — a cookie sheet, a three-pack of Dentyne chewing gum, and a boxed set of lace-trimmed handkerchiefs — gifts my siblings and I had purchased despite Mom’s claim that all she wanted was a day without fighting, screaming, tattling, or crying.

As Dad maneuvered the car along our potholed lane, I admired Mom’s bouquet: tissue-paper flowers we’d made in Sunday school, sprayed with Lily of the Valley perfume, and attached to pipe-cleaner stems. During general services, after selected classmates expressed appreciation for their mothers, the rest of us distributed the scented blossoms. “Your flowers are pretty, Mom. Hard to make, too. Did you like the speeches?”

“I did, but I hope if one of you is asked to speak on Mothers’ Day, you’ll mention things you appreciate other than the way I cook your meals, clean the house, and do your laundry. Surely there are things mothers do for their children more important than maid service.”

Unfortunately, I was never selected as a Mothers’ Day speaker and so never told Mom how grateful I am for the more important things she did for me.

My mother shaped me: She gave me her generous lips, sparse eyelashes, enjoyment of school, and belief that a day without dessert was a sad day indeed. Both of us could carry a tune, though no one in our songbird family expressed interest in hearing us do so. Public speaking, teaching, and napping came naturally to us, but a cheerful attitude before breakfast did not.

More importantly, Mom noticed and appreciated the detailed world around her. One of my earliest memories is of her teaching me to be in the moment: to swish my fingers through the cool pond where we gathered watercress, sniff the plant’s pungent aroma, and then sample a peppery leaf.

When we moved to Lander, Wyoming, I heard her marvel at the tilted red cliffs, rushing river, and towering pines of our new home and so paid closer attention than I would have if left to my self-centered teenage ways.

She once showed me a spoon she selected when she and her siblings were choosing keepsakes after their mother died. “Of all the things I chose, I treasure this the most,” she said, holding out a large silver spoon for my examination. “This was your grandmother’s stirring spoon for as long as I can remember. See how the curved edge on one side is worn flat from constant use? When I hold this spoon, it’s like I’m connected to her.”

My mother also taught me empathy. My sister and I both fled to her at different times when marriages we thought were forever crumbled. We arrived wounded, angry, frightened, and left with a sense of peace and resolution. Neither of us can remember Mom’s words, but we remember the gifts she gave us: our favorite foods, her undivided attention when we wanted to talk, and her tears when we cried.

Though my mother didn’t speak the words “I love you” easily, I never questioned her love for me. My siblings and I learned from her, enjoyed her, and appreciated her. Her home was where our hearts were.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. You did the important things.

Advertisements

65 thoughts on “The Important Things

    • Thanks, Don. My plan is to each year write about one or two important gifts my mother gave me. i enjoy thinking about them, isolating a few, and then thinking of specific examples or details to make them come alive for others.

      Liked by 3 people

    • I, too, am gaining a new knowledge and appreciation of my mother, your grandmother, by writing about the more important — though not always monumental or life-changing — things Mom did for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Like many of the women of that generation, words of love did not come easily. They nurtured their families instead, giving their lives, and hard work, to ensure that their children thrived and grew up to be good people. I can see that you appreciated her powers of observation about the wonders of nature—I can also see that she passed them on to you!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I do so enjoy reading about your memories of family and friends. That make me pause and think of my own mother and the things I remember are her sense of fun and humour, the way she had of welcoming anyone into our home and her life long friendships with friends she made along the way. She was a “strong ” woman and her daughters are cast in the same mold. Thanks Janet have a happy Mother’s Day yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Strong is a word often attached by myself and my siblings to my mother. She even referred to herself as a “strong Ferguson woman” like her mother. And to this day, my sisters and I refer to ourselves and the next generation of girls as strong Ferguson women, though I’m not sure we equal our ancestors. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know your mother through your response, Lynne.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such a sweet tribute Janet. Your mother sounds like a great woman and a wonderful mom. Teaching you to look beyond the obvious (in her and in nature) has probably served you better than any other education you’ve had.Thank you for sharing these memories with us.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re so welcome, Dan. I appreciate the care with which you read and comment on my posts. I hadn’t thought of describing the skill she taught me as looking beyond the obvious, but it’s a perfect phrase.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As always you have shown us that your mother was an incredible woman and I believe that you are a tribute to her. Looking forward to more stories about her down the line

    Liked by 3 people

  5. This is a beautiful tribute, Janet.
    But wow, just having returned from a trip to the Bahamas I had forgotten that Mother’s Day is just around the corner. Thanks for the reminder!
    Actually, I’ll be flying back east in a couple of weeks so I’ll be able to celebrate with my Mom then.
    I look forward to reading more stories about your Mother’s gifts to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you enjoyed this piece, and that it reminded you about Mother’s Day. How fortunate you are to be able to celebrate the day with your mom, even if a little late. I hope to read a blog about your trip to the Bahamas soon, Rita.

      Like

  6. Ma was not always a barrel of laughs, only now I can understand how hard it must have been, on er own with three” rambunctions”. But we turned out decent people. And thank you, Janet, I nearly forgot “Hippy Moter” day, as I called it at eight. Really, lovely post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you liked my Mothers’ Day post, Sheila. There were days and sometimes longer stretches where my mom didn’t do much guffawing either. As you say, I think sometimes she was just too tired to laugh. But, oh my, was it fun when she did get the giggles.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Such a beautiful tribute to you Mother Janet. You captured her so well. It reminded me of what you mom would do for me after having a baby. She would slip $20.00 in my hand with the instructions that the money was only for me. Not for JL, not for the children and not for necessities. She understood so well what it meant to be a mother and the need to appreciate mothers. It just made me love her more.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. She sounds like a proud, thoughtful woman. I love the treasure she chose from her mother. Feeling connected to the one who made/shaped/loved us in our most vulnerable state is a true gift if they are not still living on this planet. I have been a part of a mothers retreat for a number of Mother’s Days. My beautiful friend always starts our time together by having each of us who are present announce our lineage as we introduce ourselves. “I am Carrie, daughter to Linda, granddaughter to Yvonne and Margery and mother to Levi and Clark.” There is a touching formality to this introduction that makes me sit up a little straighter and feel connected and proud of who and where I come from.
    Lovely Mother’s Day writings and sentiments, Janet. Your words touch me when ever I get the privilege to read them. Happy Mother’s Day to you, enjoy!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I love the wording of the introduction each mother in attendance at your retreat gives of themselves. Your words “touching formality” describe it perfectly. I, too would sit straighter and feel both connected and proud of my lineage. I’m going to watch for an opportunity to introduce it to my good friends and loved ones. At the very least, I am going to think it to myself every Mother’s Day.Thank you, Carrie.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I knew you would understand the significance! This year, because I am far away from my friend, now that we have moved. I am hosting my own mothering circle and can’t wait to give all that attend the honor of this introduction. Looking forward to sharing space with each of these new beautiful friends and their maternal spirit line 🙂

        Like

      • How wonderful that you are continuing a beloved tradition you shared with your friends by introducing it to new friends you are making in your new home. They will love it. If I were there, the introductions would probably make me cry.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Neil. While she was raising me, I was unaware of the more important things my mother was instilling in me. It took maturity for me to realize how fortunate my siblings and I were to have her and how much she molded me.

      Like

  9. Lovely, Janet…just lovely. And thank you for reminding us that not everyone “tells us” what’s in their heart….sometimes we need to remember to look at their actions to “read them”….I loved your description of swishing your fingers through the pond to gather the watercress – you had me with you, Little Buddy. I really enjoyed this piece immensely….. And a Happy Mother’s Day to you, too, this coming Sunday!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you appreciated the watercress bit, Lucie. I liked how I described that memory. Neither my mom nor my dad said “I love you.” But they raised seven children who never doubted that they did. As you said, their actions spoke volumes to us.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome, J! This was definitely one of my favorite posts (and you know that that’s hard for me to say, ‘cuz I LOVE 99% of what you write!!!) ❤

        Like

      • I like it when you enjoy something I wrote and I also like it when you’re my friendly reader and tell me about something that doesn’t work for you. I made the changes we discussed in the last piece I shared with you, and I like it much better.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Aw….the feeling’s mutual, J! You’ve been a MAJOR help and I can’t thank you enough….I’m glad you like the “new changes” that you made. I look forward to having you share them with me.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. So sweet and so true… As I keep getting older, the more I appreciate my
    Mother and the wisdom and skills she managed to impart without my
    Ever being aware of the gifts she gave me. It is this “mother magic”
    Which like red wine only gets better as time passes.

    Like

    • Shawn, thank you for your kind and detailed comment. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was unaware of the important things my mother taught me until I was mature enough to look back and reflect on them; so your description of “mother magic” and your comparison to red wine both ring true to me. So nice to hear from you.

      Like

  11. Janet, you express those precious memories to stir my own. How lucky we were to have mothers there for us, to listen to our woes when our marriages broke up. Such a lot to be grateful for….
    Such a lot to live up to!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Kay. You get it. My mother was an outstanding role model. I think the reason she raised 7 children who love and respect her to this day, and have lived worthwhile lives, is that she saw the greater importances of being a mother and actively worked at them.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Maizie, your comment is one of the most meaningful I’ve received since I started blogging. “…soothed and inspired” are such eloquent words. Thank you, thank you, my friend.

      Like

  12. It amazes me that our tendencies are to remember more and more of the less overt ways our parents impacted our lives and the intangible way they molded us. A beautiful tribute to your mother, thank you for sharing. 🙂 Linda

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Aunt Beulah,
    With Mother’s day once more in our wake, somehow I missed your beautiful memories of your Mother that you have shared with us. Us being the folk that love to follow your stories, this story is so lovely and I particularly love the belief she passed on to you that a day without dessert is a sad day indeed. In many ways our mother’s parallel although they lived oceans apart. I am so glad I popped in to visit you and found this story, your Mother like mine have left us with quite a legacy to live up to, I do find myself asking “How would Mum handle this? ” often as I go about life. She always answers, and It’s not always about what you say but more about the little things you can do.
    So many treasured memories of your budiful Mum Aunt Beulah
    Great big hugs from across the miles headed your way
    From
    Annie in Australia 🌞 🌴 🌊

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always enjoy your hugs and your comments, Annie.Your words tell me what a great relationship you had with your mom because it still continues: “I do find myself asking “How would Mum handle this?” often as I go about life. She always answers…” I have that same comfort in my life, Annie, even when she tells me I’ve messed up some way! Return hugs.
      From Janet — where it’s finally springtime in the Rockies.

      Like

      • Once again I’ll say I love you
        While the birds sing all the day
        When it’s springtime in the Rockies
        In the Rockies far away

        My Mum and Dad loved their music, they sang this song many many years ago, both of them had lovely singing voices especially when they sang together.
        We are blessed to have had Mum’s that still comfort us daily, and yes I can imagine my Mum rolling her eyes at me too from time to time Aunt Beulah. I break my Mum’s rule when I interfere in my son’s love life, this happens rarely because Mum always said ” never get involved in you children’s love lives” she would never pass judgment either, I fess up that I also broke that rule, and you guessed it, in the same son’s love life. I have learned my lesson though and shall always remain tight lipped and be accepting, as it is his happiness that matters most not mine. My son has forgiven me, thank goodness.
        Mum was right all along,
        Enjoy springtime in the Rockies Aunt Beulah
        I hope the floweres with their colors are aflame
        Big hugs from
        Annie in Australia 🌞 🌴 🌊

        Like

      • How wonderful that you have also enjoyed a song that was a big part of my young life; it seems that every year our teachers chose it for the spring concert, and we always sang it with gusto. My dad used to sing it as well, but not my mom, because, like me, she wasn’t a songbird. I especially enjoyed these lines in your comment: “We are blessed to have had Mum’s that still comfort us daily, and yes I can imagine my Mum rolling her eyes at me too from time to time” I’m glad your son has forgiven you, and I’d like to add that it takes a strong, caring person to learn from his or her mistakes — a person just like you, Annie from Australia. Now I’m going to walk outside, gaze at the Rockies, and sing the song our parents sang; but I’ll do so softly, so I don’t frighten anyone.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. It is sometimes feelings that run deepest that are hardest to express – and yet, you make it seem so natural & beautiful!

    I marvel at how much in common you have with your mother, and how much you are able to empathise with each other!

    My mother and I are very different in temperament as well as in interests. Yet, as I experience more of motherhood, I am thinking that we actually have more in common than I thought.

    Your loving tribute is a reminder to look for the beauty & grace from those closest to us, as they are the ones we tend to take for granted!

    Like

    • Thank you for taking the time to send such a beautiful, thoughtful comment that contains so many truths. There is something a little intimidating about getting into feelings that “run deepest,” as you so aptly said. But I find when I do, my readers respond generously with deep feelings of their own. I appreciate the care with which you read my words.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I have been “catching up” on your posts, Aunt Janet, and this one stopped me in my tracks. I remember that exact spoon. She showed it to me as well, and explained the meaning behind it. As I unpack my things, in my new home, I still pause to reminisce with the things that came from her. I remember her smile, her polka dot dresses, her voice but mostly I remember her hands. Beautiful, beautiful hands that taught me so much about what life was about and the love that can be found there. It is the love that I see in the things that came from her. It is your words that bring it all back. THANK YOU!! What a beautiful tribute to my dearly loved Grandmother.

    Like

  16. I knew you would love this one, Dawna, and I appreciate your taking the time to let me know. I’m glad she shared her grandmother’s spoon with you as well. I remember it was a meaningful moment for me. Polka dot dresses! I had forgotten her fondness for polka dots!! What a wonderful thing to remember. I, too, live in a house where I have many reminders of her love for me. It’s comforting, isn’t it. I can hardly wait to see you in American Fork at the reunion. You will be there, won’t you?

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s