Reflecting on mothers and their impact on us

What do you think about on Mother’s Day?

I hope any of you who are lucky enough to still have your mother on this Earth will take some time to honor her. Stop by for a visit or, if you live far apart, pick up the phone and take this opportunity to catch up with her and the happenings in her life. Take her some flowers or a small gift, or share a meal with her.

Most mothers don’t really care what you do for them on Mother’s Day — they care that you want to do anything at all. They want to know that the people they devoted their lives to understand and appreciate them.

I hope that those of you who have lost your mother like I have will take time today to reflect on who she truly was. Certainly you should recall the countless things she did for you, but you should also think about the things that were important to her that she may have set aside for the benefit of her children. Appreciating your mom as a whole person can help you better comprehend just how much she may have sacrificed for you.

It’s been nearly three years since my mother, Grace Compston, passed away. I still miss her every day, and I am still surprised by things I learn about her as I sift through old photos or records that she kept.

I always knew that she was meticulous and thorough, but I did not comprehend the extent to which she was always prepared for anything until I was left to go through her things.

I am fairly certain that she filed away every utility bill she ever received, and although she stopped teaching remedial reading to elementary students in the early 1990s, she still had all the materials she would need to do so on hand when she died suddenly in 2016.

She also remained extremely sharp and organized right up until the end. Despite the sheer volume of the records and copies that she kept, I know she could have found any document she was looking for in no time at all.

As I look back, I am amazed at how Mom changed on the surface over the years. I recently stumbled on a photo of Mom wearing a crisp little white apron over her skirt while posing with my dad and two older brothers. That outward sign of domesticity seemed very out of place to me, since Mom worked as a professional educator most of my life and never wore an apron to cook or clean. Yet, on the same day that I found that photo,

I also found that little apron, neatly folded and preserved in a small box.

For much of her life Mom was a housewife — a stay-at-home mom — who sang in church choirs, participated in garden clubs and played softball. None of those things remained the case as I grew up. Mom became too busy with work to do many of those things that she had enjoyed; instead, she enjoyed and was fully devoted to her career as a teacher and, later, as a school administrator.

On the inside, though, I don’t think Mom changed much at all. She never lost her love of poetry. She continued to mark passages of books that she enjoyed, and she wrote verses of her own in notebooks and on scraps of paper.

She maintained a sense of humor. She continued to be outraged at injustices and worried about the state of national and world affairs. Although she may have worn plenty of skirts and aprons in her time, she always considered women to be equal with men and believed I would grow up in a world where I would be treated fairly, based on my merits rather than my gender.

I could go on and on describing my mother and her many attributes. I could share stories about specific events that would be funny, moving or impressive. Those of you who knew her might enjoy them, but they would do little to paint a true picture of my mother for those of you who did not.

My point is this: Regardless of who you are, it is extremely likely that your mother has made a huge impact on your life. Today is a day to remember that and to thank her for it if you can. If she has already passed on, then share some of her wisdom, kindness and love with others around you who can benefit from it.

The same holds true for other maternal figures in your life. Whether it is your grandmother, your older sister, an aunt, a family friend or just a woman who for some reason took you under her wing, appreciate that today.

Although my mother and both grandmothers are gone, I am fortunate to have a fantastic mother-in-law to celebrate Mother’s Day with today. My husband, Mike, and I will be preparing a nice meal for Midge Strough and my father-in-law, Dexter, this evening.

We will share some food and some laughs, and we will all be better off as a result of the time spent together. We even have a little gift for her. But I am most looking forward to relaxing together with them and appreciating Midge for all she has done for Mike and myself over the years.

Thanks to all mothers everywhere today. May your children and grandchildren remember to show you just how special and important you are.

Happy Mother’s Day!