The holidays either make us want to hold our families close or knock them about the head and shoulders. Either way, we don’t always appreciate the people who were with us when we were scared of the dark, or covered in chicken pox, or crying in the mud after falling off of a swing. We forget the importance of having someone in our life who remembered us when we had a crush on G.I. Joe – the doll.
Those with whom we spent time in close proximity know us, flaws and all. Hopefully, they love us anyway.
I asked my readers to share some of their stories of family, love, and light, because I don’t want this site to just be about me. There is no limit to the number of stories that we all have accumulated over this vast, amazing lifetime.
Many thanks to my dear friend Sarah Simmons for sharing her story — a reminder of why we should appreciate each moment we have with them, even when it hurts.
[Dr. Sarah J. Simmons is a retired Assistant-Principal in North Carolina, and a Professor of Education at Roanoke College in Virginia.]
My father lived to be 92 years old, and my mother was 90 years old when he died. But she never looked her age, as you can see from the photo below.
Just after my father died, my mother decided that she needed some straw. My parents lived on a farm, so this was not a rare occurrence for us, except that my 90 year-old mother planned on climbing the barn ladder to throw out five bales of straw from the top of the barn loft onto the ground. The ladder and opening to the loft was very narrow, so I insisted on doing this chore for her.
Things were going well until I retrieved the fifth bale. Just as I picked up the bale, a swarm of yellow jackets surrounded me, and I realized that I had aroused an angry group of bees. I yelled to my mother who was standing on the ground looking up at the opening in the barn loft, “There are yellow jackets here and I am getting stung!”
My mother, the product of the Great Depression, calmly replied, “Just go to the back of the barn and get the fifth bale before coming down.”
Like a good daughter, I obeyed.
After finishing my chore, I climbed down from the barn loft with bees still attacking me. My mother just looked at me and quietly said, “A little pure vanilla extract will take care of the stings.”
I carried the straw bales to the house and applied the vanilla extract, as recommended. And, of course, it worked.
Growing up, my mother always had the answer to whatever hurt I had acquired. She had a remarkable way of taking the worst situation and making it okay. Her calm demeanor just made things always seem better.
My mom passed away at the age of 96, but I feel her presence each day. When I start to get uptight or worry, I consider what my mother endured during the Depression.
We are survivors and life is a journey, bumps and all. I just hope that I can continue on my journey with the same dignity that my mother displayed.
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