Mother’s Day always provides an opportunity to think of our own mothers, be they still with us or gone. Facebook postings were filled with old photos of moms and children of varying ages and stages, as well as reminiscences of influential women and the things we have learned from them. It’s a nice time to reflect.
What struck me most this year, however, as I heard from my own grown daughters, was how the legacy of my wonderful mother lives on in them. Mom died more than seven years ago, and I love to see her reflected in her granddaughters. I suppose there is a bit part of me in each of them, too, but those portions are not as evident to me.
My mom and my daughters share wit and wisdom, a love for the out of doors and for travel. They are (were) wonderful cooks and hostesses, able to make guests feel comfortable and welcome. Passionate about books and reading, they are quick to share that love with others. They are compassionate and empathetic, intelligent and active. The “girls” learned to set a beautiful table from Mom.
When they were little (starting at 5 and 8), Grandma and Grandpa invited Hillary and Allison to our family ranch in Jackson Hole for a month every summer. Wayne and I didn’t make much money at the time, and having our daughters gone for a month provided both a wonderful experience for them and chances for us to do things like go to the movies without needing a baby sitter. Big stuff on a limited income.
At the ranch, not only did Hillary and Allison learn to ride and care for horses, they were given very specific chores. They and I can wash dishes faster and more efficiently than anyone I’ve ever seen.
Mom was also a stickler about grammar (as are the rest of us, actually). Upon returning from their ranch stint one summer as early teens, both daughters and one of their friends who had spent a week in their company were complaining that Grandma spent too much time reinforcing grammar and table manners. They didn’t like the frequent corrections.
Their notion was that she and Grandpa should spend only one day per year on such focus and that would be sufficient. Then they proceeded to correct the friend when she either said something ungrammatical or used the wrong fork or something. I don’t recall the details, just that I burst out laughing and they had the grace to follow.
Memories of my mother are deep and appreciative. One of the things I miss most about her are the times when we would laugh so hard we would be weeping, unable to talk. Frequently the giggles would strike in church, and we would fight for control. One of us would stop then feel the pew shaking as the other continued to laugh silently. My father could never understand how we could be so disrespectful. Apparently, not much in church has ever struck him as funny. For Mom and me, the laughter bond was a special one.
On a recent trip to Hawaii with Hillary and Allison, the three of us got hit with such a fit of laughter I had to pull the car off to the side of the road because I couldn’t see to drive. I could feel Mom’s presence. Moms and daughters, both directions.
Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at www.laketahoeschool.org.