“Where have you been? We have been trying to reach you all morning. Ma had a heart attack.”
Those are the words that my sister said as I answered my cell phone last July. With tears streaming down my face, I asked what had happened. She explained that my mom and my sister-in-law were returning home from a trip. My mom was having what she thought was acid reflux symptoms and she said that she would just go home and sleep it off. My sister-in-law encouraged her to go to the hospital to get everything checked out instead and I’m so glad that she did. My mom had actually experienced a minor heart attack, and while she was at the hospital she had a major heart attack. The doctor later told my mom that if she had gone home and went to sleep, she would have never woken up. Thank God for my sister-in-law!
My mom and I are extremely close. Except for that one year in high school when I was going through my teen rebellion, we have always had a really wonderful, mutually adoring relationship. The thought of losing her truly rocked my world. It made me think of the legacy that she would have left for my family. Without a doubt, it would have been a legacy of love.
My mom has not had the easiest life. She married and had kids at a very young age. After becoming divorced, she raised five kids. She worked a lot out of necessity, but there was never a question of how much she loved my siblings and me. Now, I am a married mom with just two kids, a super-involved husband and the privilege to work from home around my family’s schedule. I really have no idea how my mom did what she did without grumbling and complaining and without losing sight of her own dreams. (After we kids left home, she returned to school and obtained multiple graduate degrees.) The most inspiring thing about my mom, though, is that she is a wonderful example of love.
My mom has taught me to enjoy my life with the people I love doing the things that I love as much as possible… even during the challenging periods of life. These are a few of the “love lessons” that my mom taught me:
Love God. He loves you first, best and unconditionally. Love him back.
Love yourself. As a woman of faith, my mom taught me that you can’t “love your neighbor as yourself” if you haven’t learned how to love yourself.
Love your family. As imperfect as they are, family will be there for you when others won’t, during the good and bad times.
Love your friends… especially the ones who love you back enough to tell you the truth about yourself.
Love learning. Two of the greatest gifts that my mom has given me are the gifts of curiosity and the love of reading.
Love to give. Even when we didn’t have a lot growing up, my mom always managed to give to others a portion of what she did have.
Love to laugh. One of my recent fortune cookies said, “The most utterly lost of all days is that on which you have not laughed.” The fortune cookie said it, but my mom lived it first.
In closing, 1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” That scripture was the one thing that gave me comfort when my mom’s recovery was in question. Even if her physical body were to depart this earth, her legacy of love would remain.