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Louise Bostic reminds us to "Listen to your mom"

Posted: Sunday, May 12, 2019 | Views: 923

Louise Bostic reminds us to "Listen to your mom"

A view from my front porch
By: Louise Bostic

More than all the textbooks, presidents, heroes or pals, moms probably have had the most influence in most of our lives. Whether a stay-at-home mom or the top professional in her field, her love and influence is unmistakable. My mom was one of that “greatest generation,” and I miss her counsel and guidance. On Mother’s Day I particularly miss her stories.

When she was 87, Mother and I had a conversation about her dad. By that time, our quiet times varied in degrees of "good" and "not so good". This was a good day prompting me to ask, “Tell me again how Grandpa came to be in America.” Her soft expression told me I had made a good request. She wanted to talk about her dad.

“He was just a baby when his dad died. He was fourteen and his older brother was a captain. So he came here on his brother's ship. Didn't speak a word of English. When he got off the boat, he saw them hoppin' on a train, so he did too. He got off the train and he caught a ride. First saddle he ever saw was in the back of that pickup. Saw the blanket and he sat on it upside down. (She chuckled as she remembered her dad as a foolish teen.) They threw him off. Then he didn't get another. His oldest sister was in Minnesota and he was trying to get there. He made it, but it took him a long time.”

It was a struggle for Mother to talk. She faded here and I didn't press her to go on. The far away expression on her face told me of her admiration of her father. You seldom heard Mother speak with soft admiration of Grandpa. He was pretty rough on my Grandma and Mother and the other six siblings as they grew up in rural New Mexico. He liked his liquor, perhaps had much to forget about his youth in Czar-terrorized Finland, and he had a nasty temper. She seemed to understand him now in retrospect.

I miss my mom. There was nothing I would not have given her and my siblings felt the same way, but she was never really “in to” things. On holidays as she pulled the carefully and lovingly chosen gifts from their boxes. She always made an appropriate fuss over the beautiful packages and thanked everyone warmly. No one suspected that she was already thinking of who could get the best use of each item. In the weeks after the holiday she truly enjoyed each offering as she passed them on to her friends “who really needed them.” She treasured the pictures, particularly the ones in frames and the hand made gifts from the grandchildren. These remained on her special shelf in the living room.

One sister, more perceptive than the rest of us, noticed this and began to shop at arts fairs. This sister also had more money and would not hesitate to spend it for others. These “handmade” novelties were displayed a while and then just disappeared. I don’t really know what happened to them but I suspect they might have turned up at her senior center arts and crafts room.

I stopped giving my mom gifts in packages partly because I was too lazy to shop or I would simply forget as I cooked and cleaned to get ready for the holiday family reunions at her house. I was with her most of the time in the last two decades of her life, maintaining her house and yard, taking her to her doctors and shopping, paying bills, running errands. It was some time during those last twenty years that I realized this giving of my time to her was all she really wanted. Spending time with her and listening to her seemed to be things I did for myself but it became more and more evident that mom considered this a way of showing my love the way she had shown her own love for us.

Mothers Day is passing again and I hope you were able to spend real time with your mom. If you still have one-on-one time with her, spend it listening, really listening. Someday this gift to her may be one of your own greatest treasures.

My guidebook has much to say about wives and mothers: “Strength and dignity are her clothing and she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue......”

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