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What Mom Wanted

What did Mom want out of life?  Not much.  To be happy, smiling, and laughing.  To be with friends and family.  To help people find their place.

When I reached my sophomore year of high school, I’d moved in with my Dad.  When my high school graduation neared, Mom called me with advice about the future.  “I don’t care what you do, even if you work at a convenience store, as long as you’re happy.”

“Mom,” I replied, “I have higher aspirations than that.”

“I don’t want you to feel like we’re pressuring you to do anything.  It’s fine with me if you work at a convenience store.  I just want you to be happy.”

Where was she getting these ideas?  She would call me once a month and at some point in the conversation, she would give me the “I don’t care if you work in a convenience store as long you’re happy” speech.  After awhile, I began to wonder if she doubted I had any potential in life.

Of course, I wouldn’t be her son if I didn’t mess with her on occasion.

“Mom, I’ve been thinking about it.  I don’t think I can do college.  I think it might be too hard for me.”

“Well, if that’s what you want to do I’ll support you, but I think you’re smart and you can achieve anything you set your mind to.”

“But two minutes ago you said you’d be happy if I worked in a convenience store.”

“You’re twisting my words around,” she’d retort.

Of course I was and I enjoyed doing so.  But I got the point- she wanted us to be happy.

In the last month, with not much to do other than talk, we talked about how her pursuit of happiness influenced her decision making.

“If I faced two choices and I knew what the outcome for one would be and it wasn’t going to make me happy, then I would take the unknown road, on the chance that it might make me happy.  Sometimes it worked out and sometimes it didn’t.”

During those years, she matured from a person who chased jobs and homes and money for happiness to a person who found it within.  Once that happened, she proved difficult to sadden, no matter what faced her- loss of job, the sale of her home, lack of money, sickness, and even death.  She and the oncologist spent an hour and a half laughing and talking.  And this was after he’d told her she had weeks to live.

With her last job, she drove twenty-five miles one way and made just enough money to make ends meet, but her smile never wavered.  She loved her job as a receptionist as an independent living facility since it allowed her to be around people and it let her help people.  She’d discovered that happiness wasn’t found it money and stuff but in the people that surrounded her.

In her last month, as she got closer to the end, she was asking who was coming and when.  At first, I thought she was worried no one was coming, but then the nurses helped me understand her question.  If she knew one of her friends was coming to visit her, she would refuse to take the morphine so that she would be alert and enjoy the time talking with her friends.  As much as possible, she’d take her friends over morphine.

One of the things she enjoyed doing was helping people find their way.  As a teenager, she might have told me it was okay to work at a convenience store, but as an adult, she encouraged me to publish my writing.  This past Christmas, her words came at just the right time.  She gave me a Christmas card with a note telling me how much she liked my writing and how I ought to keep writing.  Her words gave me the final push to finish and publish my first book, The Accident:  A Bike, A Truck, And A Train.  Like any good Mom, she pushed it on all her friends.

She didn’t want much, only the important things in life- happiness, friends, and finding her place.  To get there, she relied on a short memory when it came to challenges and difficult people.  “Life is too short…”

She smiled, she laughed, she never looked back.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. April 17, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Sound like a woman I could lookup to!

  2. Valerie P
    April 17, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    What a loving and gracious post. Thank you, Chris, for sharing it. It rings very true to the woman we knew, but also illuminates the woman we had no way to know. I’m glad you didn’t end up in that convenience store for all of our sake, but I love the sentiment that you are more valuable than your job…whatever it might be.

  3. Bobby Steward
    April 18, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Sounds just like the sweet lady who, though I only got to know her a short time, always had a Smile every time I saw her especially when got ready to greet you.

  4. Yvonne Dailey
    April 18, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    What an absolutely wonderful tribute to you mom, and a I hope you and your family will always remember her that way! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this most recent path your life’s journey has taken you. As always with your writing, it made me smile, it made me thinkg, and it helped me see something from a new perspective. God Bless.

    • April 23, 2012 at 8:06 am

      Yvonne- Thanks for the encouragement.

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