Mother’s Day and the 5 Inheritances

I was talking this morning after church about the Mother’s Day service that had just been presented by a fellow member.   I told her that I originally had not thought of coming to church that morning because I had been missing my mother more than usual around this time of year, although she had passed away 13 years ago.

She asked me why, and I said I thought it was my father had just passed away last October, and my feelings about missing him had somehow opened up a room in my head where I had been storing my feelings about my mother, stirring them up as well.   I told my friend that the difficult part was seeing ads EVERYWHERE asking you to get a present for your mother, which was frustrating for me since I was unable to do so.

But after the service I felt so much better, because I felt like we were celebrating our relationships with our mothers, which continues on even if our mothers themselves have passed on.   My friend said, “I’ll tell you what helps me at Mother’s Day, because my mother passed away a long time ago, like yours did.    List 5 things in your head that you feel you have inherited from her, whether they are physical, emotional, or spiritual attributes that you have.”

I did so, and here’s the list I came up with–I encourage you to make your own list.


  1. My interest in foreign languages and cultures–actually, it was my mother’s brother who visited our house when I was six years old who sparked my interest in learning Spanish, because he amazed me with his ability to switch instantaneously from English (which he spoke with my sister) to Spanish (which he spoke with his wife).   When I did a report in third-grade on Afghanistan, and the teacher yelled at me for giving a report on something which “no one in the class cared about,” my mother was like a tigress whose lion cub had been attacked, and told the principal of the school that the teacher had no business discouraging my interests, even if they did not fit in with what she thought third-graders should be interested in.   She encouraged me when I had an opportunity to live in Germany after undergraduate studies, and in Japan after graduate studies.
  2. My emotional intelligence–my intellectual interests were encouraged more by my father, but my mother was one who could always read people and situations and come up with a solution to interpersonal problems.   I’m not as skilled as she was, but I certainly recognized the value of these skills.
  3. My interest in literature and the arts–I was a left-brain person, studying mathematics and physics almost exclusively when I was in high school and in college.    When I got a job to earn money for graduate school, I was on an evening shift at the phone company when I was doing data entry, and I therefore had most of the day free.   She encouraged me to go to the Art Institute of Chicago and to read some of the great works of literature, which opened up in my head an entirely new right-brain territory that laid dormant until then.   I attribute my well-roundedness as an educated person to her gentle insistence that the arts had something to contribute to my life as well as the sciences.
  4. My volunteering–my mother, and my father for that matter, “retired” in only the nominal sense of the word when they turned 65.    They immediately got involved in volunteering, my mother for the AIDS ministry in Chicago because of her medical background as a nurse practitioner.   When I was looking for work after being laid off from a job in the aftermath of the recession in 2008, I used the opportunity not only to search for a new career, which I found in the field of project management, but also to volunteer at the Project Management Institute, first in the Orange County, CA chapter and then in the Chicagoland chapter when I moved here in 2013.    Volunteering has allowed me to give back to both the community and the profession, and it helps me keep in touch with the different generations of people in the workplace.    I’ve also been a volunteer at my church and at Toastmasters, and it has allowed a natural introvert like me (another trait I had in common with my mother) to still get plenty of opportunities for social interaction through my volunteering activities.
  5. My love of diversity–my mother worked for many years in the Headstart program as a nurse practitioner in many heavily African-American communities, and developed many lifelong friendships with colleagues that caused her not only to be tolerant of people from different races, religions, and backgrounds, but to actively seek them out to form bridges.   She belonged to a group that put on such events as Diversity Dinners, which brings together people from different backgrounds to have dinner together and discuss not what differences they have, but what they have in common.   In honor of the coming Mother’s Day, my sister and I went to the Diversity Dinners held recently, and we had a great time.

All of these threads that make the tapestry of my character were ones I inherited, in one fashion or other, from my mother.    When I got home from church after recalling the above “5 Inheritances,” I no longer felt lonely or missing my mother.   Why?  Because I realized she still lives on, in me!


2 Responses

  1. Thank you indeed. It has been very encouraging. Maybe I should do the same. My mom went on ahead to Heaven some 18 years ago. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Thank you Lynda for your reply. I’m glad that my words reached others whose mothers are no longer with us, and that they were able to help. Mother’s Day was originally created as a Mother’s Day of Peace, but I found I celebrated it by being at peace with her absence …

Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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 )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: