It’s been two years since my mother passed away.
I just recently had the courage to sort through her things. Two years ago, I boxed up all her stuff and put it in the attic, out of sight, where I wouldn’t have to deal with it. I couldn’t.
Time passed, and her unexpected passing began to hurt a little bit less. One by one, I began to open the boxes. As I’m sitting at the kitchen table, I can hear her voice as I go through the photo albums she left—it’s been so long.
My mother was a woman of few words.
My friends would always complain about the dreaded “motherly advice” they received at home—rarely did I receive this. No, my mother didn’t speak much about life—“life’s for living” she used to say, but that was not often. As I looked through the snapshots of her life, I realized that her actions spoke louder than her words.
My mother, without saying a thing, told me a lot about life, I just never took the time to notice.
These are the five lessons I learned while sitting at my kitchen table:
1. Always have your party dress ready for life’s special occasions.
Yes, be prepared for all that life has in store. Will life throw sticks and stones? Yes, that’s just reality. However, life will also give you an abundance to celebrate, but only after you’ve put your party dress on—that’s another reality!
Born before WWII in a working class family, my mother grew up having that one “special” dress for all occasions—church, school photos or birthdays. Once she was allowed to keep some of her own money, she spent it on a great dress to make sure she would “never miss out on life ever again!”
2. The love of your life is the one with whom you feel at home when first you meet.
You will always recognize the love of your life. How? Don’t overanalyze—just listen to the call of your heart coming home. That’s all, really.
When she was 16, my mother met my father for the first time at the cinema. She looked at him; he looked at her. That was all it took. They “went steady” that evening, started saving for their home together the next day and were married 13 years later.
3. Keep your faith.
No matter what, keep your faith. It will provide you shelter on stormy days, solid ground in landslides and a magnifying glass when happiness seems hard to find.
My mother’s faith kept her going through the years. Her daily prayers were her “thank-you notes” to whomever or whatever out there was bigger than us.
4. Dreams come in different packages.
We all have our hopes and dreams in life and they all come in different packages. Don’t compare your dreams with anyone else’s and don’t confuse somebody else’s dreams for your own. Make sure to unwrap your package early and enjoy them to the fullest!
All my mother ever wanted was a family that spent summers in the mountains. Those were her dreams and she relished every single moment of them after they came true.
5. Your heart will tell you by its weight when it’s time to say goodbye.
We are meant to live lightheartedly wherever we go. If your heart is heavy, it’s time to say goodbye.
My mother left her job after 20 years of folding tea-towels on a whim. “I knew it was time to move on,” she said. She never looked back, and she never took a job outside the house again.
Author: Elles Lohuis
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock