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Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Mother, Myself

Three years ago today my mom passed away. Sometimes the loss still feels raw, but when I think back to those days, weeks and even months right after she died,when it was still so new, I know I have come a long way settling into this life without someone I dearly loved.

Like all humans my mother was not perfect. There is a tendency to deify people when they've died that I've never agreed with. I think it diminishes their humanness and gives the rest of us a level of faux perfectionism we can never attain. I prefer to remember my mom as real and flawed - just like me.

My mother did have me beat in a couple of areas that I am always trying to emulate. She was extremely non-judgemental and rarely said anything negative about anyone. Her former colleagues to this day will tell me how she was a pillar of integrity, someone who never bought into workplace gossip and kept her opinions to herself. I don't think of myself as a gossip, but I know I sometimes do vent to a close friend, having a good whine for a moment of two.

I like to think I'm pretty good on not being judgemental. Well, if I'm being completely honest, I can't say that's one-hundred percent true. I do judge people. I judge them on how they treat others, how they treat themselves, and how they impact the people and world around them. So apparently I'm 0 for 2.

I kind of want people to use words like "gracious" to describe me, like they did her,but given my affinity for "that's what she said" jokes and appreciation for expletive laced music, I've got a feeling that's not a word people would use to describe me.

Where I have tried to be different from my mother, in a way I think is positive, is I am much more demonstrative, both verbally and physically. I tell my children I love them every time I talk to them, and I am a much more affectionate person. I think if you love someone you should say it. Often. Partly generational and partly personality, I am a more open person. I like that. I never heard the words "I love you" from my mom until I said them first. At about 20-years-old. The amazing thing was, once that wall came down, she then began to say it all the time.

My mother took up yoga in her late 70s, became a Reiki Master at 80,and never stopped learning. That is something I want to carry on. I want to never stop being curious, to always want to try something new, and just be open to what shows up.

Maybe the trick is to take the strengths we saw in our parents, improve on the weaknesses, and then mix it in with the things that make us, us. "When you know better you do better," Maya Angelou famously said. As a daughter and a mother, my hope is that we all just keep getting better with each generation. I think there's no better tribute than that.

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