This week is the birth anniversary of a person who was one of the most influential in my life: my dear mother. This week also marks the second anniversary of her passing from this physical life, as she made her transition just a few days prior to her 93rd birthday. As I reflect on her life and all of what she meant to me, I am reminded of not only how loving she was but of her wisdom.
In my early years, my mother’s constant concern was for her children’s welfare. I was the third of the four children and even though we were living in meager times, mother made sure that we had food to eat, a roof over our heads, and clean clothes to wear. And she was wise - she knew the value of an education and closely supervised our schooling by volunteering in our classrooms and making sure our homework was done and done right. And she did all this while running our family’s restaurant alongside our father.
As we grew into adulthood, she didn’t meddle in our affairs (another wise move!), but was always there when we needed her. I called on her many times to help out with my different businesses and at one point, my mother became the Comptroller of my companies and stayed with the company until her retirement. Who better to handle my finances than someone whose life had been dedicated to the success of my siblings and me!
But my mother took her dedication to a level that I can only say is remarkable. In her motherly wisdom, she wanted to make sure that the future would only hold mutual love, support and cooperation between her children. And in her death, she wanted there to be no consternation concerning her funeral and no arguments concerning her estate.
With that in mind, my very wise mother prepaid for her funeral and made all of the arrangements. She made sure that we knew what she wanted her funeral to look like including the songs and verses to be sung, who would deliver the eulogy as well as selecting the funeral home to handle the arrangements! And, indeed, when the time came, we didn’t have to make those decisions. If the funeral arrangements hadn’t been pre-determined, my siblings and I might have had differing ideas as to what the funeral should look like which could have cause conflict, turning our grief into anger. Because of her forethought, she gave us a wonderful gift by taking those decisions out of our hands! And we were all so pleased that the service was exactly what she wanted. Her wisdom allowed us to spend time with each other remembering her and talking about her life instead of getting mired in the details of a funeral.
During the very last months of her life, Mother again did us a huge favor by putting together a list of her possessions and who she wanted to leave things to. She then made four copies of the list and attached four copies of a letter she wrote to us collectively. She placed all of this in an envelope and taped it to a large mirror in the hallway of her house with the following written on the outside, “To all my children, open this upon my death.” In the letter she expressed how very much she loved each of us along with the following: “I have listed various things that each of you have given me and that is the person I would like it to go back to. Yet, there are some other things in my possession not listed.” She went on to write these tremendously meaningful and wise words: “I hope none of you will fight over them. Please remember you lived without it until now, and no doubt could live forever without it.”
When my siblings and I gathered together and collectively read the letter, we smiled at each other with those smiles that only siblings can give each other. We could hear her voice in those words. With tears in our eyes, there were these simultaneous heartfelt words coming from each of us, “Anyone can have anything they want.”
And Mother had orchestrated it all. She had warded-off any possible conflict between us during our time of stress and grief. With her wisdom, she had reached beyond the grave and created an environment of love and compassion. Truly, there was LOVE in the air and it permeated the room! It was fantastic! What another beautiful gift she gave us!
In life and in death, our Mother cared for us. We were her concern, her life and her love. I hope that her wisdom has rubbed off on me so that I can give to my children all that she gave to me.