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What Mom Taught Me

My mom passed away in March, and I’ve been missing her a great deal. She wasn’t just my mom: she was my hero and my role model. I have written about her before, “Inspiration, and Gratitude“:

My mom always trusted her heart; otherwise I never would have been born. She had some health issues, and her doctor said it was safer to have an operation that would have kept her from having any more children after her 3rd baby (my sister Barbara) was born. But my mom really wanted one more baby and said no operation until she had another one, so I made it into this world. Then, when I was only 2 months old, a toy got caught in my throat when I supposed to be napping (I never was good at following instructions) and cut off my air flow. My mom walked by and saw my turning purple and saved me. When the doctors said I probably would never recover, she never lost hope and nursed me back to good health.

So I owe my mom even more than your average kid. But the reason I admire her so much, the reason she inspires me so much, is because of the example she set and the love and care she showed everyone she met. Our family hosted a couple of African families going to college in Lincoln (my hometown). At that time most white Nebraskans weren’t willing to associate with black people, but in our house, they were family. We took in a developmentally disabled foster child, Kevin, and he became as dear a brother to us, and as dear a son to my mom, as any of her birth children. Kevin died 3 years ago, but him being a part of our family was a joy and inspiration for all of us. My mom has spent her whole life taking care of people who needed her — caring for and playing with the neighborhood kids, tutoring struggling kids at the public schools, sitting in hospitals and nursing homes with dying people when they were in their last moments. Our minister at church used to kid that he kept her name in his wallet with a note to call her in emergencies. She made the lives of everyone who knew her - even people she didn’t like much — better. I once asked her why she helped people she didn’t like very well. She told me that when someone needed help, it didn’t matter whether they were likable, that every person deserved dignity and compassion in their times of need.

So in honor of my mom on Mother’s Day, and in honor of all mothers who teach their children right, my organization, American Family Voices, made this video:

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