Saturday, May 13, 2017

Remember Mom – from fun to advice – always a fine teacher.

My mother gave me some truly good advice, much of it I didn’t consider the importance of until I became a wife and mother. First and foremost, feed them first; then talk. This was especially true with my dad. When mom had to either ask him a question or tell him some news that he may not want to hear, she fed him first. While he stirred his last cup of coffee, out came the questions or news. I can remember standing in the kitchen and watching the drama unfold, thinking, oh boy, dad. Here it comes! Another piece of advice, not now! When I had something I wanted to tell my dad or brother and she determined it was not the best time, she would put her finger up to her lips, along with a nod silently saying, “No, Not now.”  She said timing was everything and if you want to get the answer you desire, wait for the right time. But I would ask, “When is the right time?” With a wink of her eye, she said, “You’ll know.” It took me a long time to figure out all of this advice, but I did and passed it along to my children.

Mother and son. Very special bonds are formed from day one. One of my husband, Keith’s fondest memories of his mom was when she taught him how to sew. She help him make a coat and pants for his doll, which is in our Family Museum. Keith was the last child, 4 siblings before him; 1 sister, 3 brothers. Most of them were older and being the youngest, he got a lot of attention from his mom. She played with him often and told him he had a master touch with woodworking and encouraged him to build and create. Keith was very close to her and with her passing 10 years ago at the age of 102, he misses her. One of her last bits of advice of the many she gave him, was not to get so old; it’s not fun.  

"My mom is my best friend,” Tiffeni wrote. “During my four decades she has shared a lot of wisdom, ideas, advice, and many other things. But want I want to thank her most is for the ultimate present - the gift of play. My mom nurtured my curiosities and fed my imagination. My mom play with me and made the most places and events magical. One memory that stands out is when we went to the Art Institute in Chicago. As we looked at the paintings, mom would bend down and whisper in my ear, "What is the lady thinking?" or "Where does that path go?" She spoke to me as an adult; not a little kid, and waited for my answer. As I grew up, mom & I would visit museums often and we would continue our game that contributed to my love for learning. Thank you for being playful, instilling me the love of museums, fostering my imagination, and your constant encouragement. You're the best! Tiffy."

A boy with his mom is so very different than a girl with her mom. Perhaps it is because mom can take a breather from the task of teaching and play instead. Boys like to play and that is what Charlie and I did. He recalls how we listened to lullabies’, laying out train tracks from his bedroom and down the hall. He loved the little encouraging notes I would put in his lunchbox, and most of all, introducing him to the Titanic, the start of a passion for maritime history. Boys are very attentive, observant, and kind. These pictures were both taken at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home in Virginia, 24 years apart. Whatever I was trying to explain to him in the first picture, he listened. This is one of my most cherished moments with Charlie because I cannot recall what I said to him, but apparently it must have been wonderment. So when we visited there again, Charlie wanted to re-enact that moment. We did and neither one of us can remember what was said. But it’s special, indeed, to have him still astonished.  

So this Mother’s Day, have your children and grandchildren write down what they learned best from you. It is surprising to read what they remember, perhaps something you even forgot. And don’t forget to put your Mother’s Day memories in your Family Museum, so they will be there for you and the rest of the family to enjoy.

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