May 8, 2010
My Mother’s Influence of Mindfulness
It is easy to relate to the fact that we are partly a collection of our life’s experiences. When we initially think of this, we think about why it is that we make certain decisions in life, or how we learned to perform a task. But, if we develop an inner awareness, a greater understanding of who we are, it can be traced back to even our childhood, back to the comfort of our caretakers.
I can recognize many things that make me who I am, as coming from my Mother. As my Aunt Marty recently reminded me, “you got your Mom’s artist eye”, when looking at pictures of some of my artwork.
But it is not just those obvious things that I am as grateful for her giving me, as for the more subtle qualities.
Just as in my adult life, when I was a child, my greatest enjoyment came from being outside. While I had some toys to play with, it was my Mother that taught me that all you really need is already within and surrounding you.
We would spend time together collecting locust shells from trees, an attaching them to our clothes and hair as she gave me a lesson about what they were and why they were there. I can still remember the feel of them on my fingertips and the sound of the light, crinkly casings as I plucked them from the bark. We’d collect pine-cones from Grandma’s lawn, and use our shirts as baskets for holding them.
Many summer days were filled with the joys of living a simple life, as we’d sit and pick beans and strawberries from the garden, stopping periodically to marvel at a beautiful butterfly fluttering by. Since I was young, my way of helping out with the laundry was to hand Mom one piece of clothing at a time for her to hang on the clothesline. She taught me to describe the smell of freshness as her “as new” afghans came off the line and onto our faces.
Even as my older sister would be annoyed as Mom would stop along the roadside to cut down some cat-tails and black-eyed susans from the swampy marsh and field a few feet away, I would beg to come with her so I could make my own bouquet.
Mom always saw the beauty in our natural world. She shared this mindfulness with me in a way that left me in awe, and with a fascination of the cycles of life, reminding me that all we really need is already within us and surrounding us.
It is perhaps also this deep connection that Mom has had with our Mother Earth, that has always encouraged me to also see Her with sensitivity, care and respect.
As Mom’s health has deteriorated, she is now unable to use her brain in a sensible way. As the home-health aides and even my help cannot give her the joy and comfort that she once reveled in the daily simplicities and in nature, I find solace in the many lessons of mindfulness that she has shared with me as a child. For that, a deep gratitude exists, deeper than she can be aware of today. I love you, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.