Friday, March 31, 2017

A Life of Joy and Service

Today marks 10 years since my dear mom passed away.  At times, I still miss her so much it literally makes my heart ache.  But most of the time, although I miss her, the actual pain of it is dulled.  When I think of her, it is almost always with happiness and not hurt.  Today she has been on my mind since the moment I woke up to a text from my older sister, to myself and my younger sister, with the simple words, "Thinking of Mom today."  That's all she needed to say.  We all knew the love, the respect, the remembrance, the heaviness and even the pain those words carried.

I've been thinking of Mom today too.  And all my thoughts, all the memories that have been coming to mind revolve around two values that my mom held in excess: joy and service.

Anyone who knew my mom, knew she liked to party and laugh.  She organized and hosted more parties than I can count.  Every Sunday she had "family dinner" which consisted of hosting many different friends through the years, sometimes up to 30-40 people.  During those dinners we talked, played games and laughed until late into the night.  When my mom laughed, she did so wholeheartedly. Many people, even today, have expressed to me how much they miss that boisterous laugh.  She laughed hysterically at anyone who fell down; watching her view America's Funniest Home Videos was funnier than watching the actual show.  I once asked her if she would laugh if it was she who fell.  She confessed that she wasn't sure being in such poor health, a fall would probably be quite painful.  A few days later, as we were crossing an icy parking lot, she slipped and fell underneath a car stopped at a stop sign.  I instantly was concerned, as was the woman in the car, looking at me wide-eyed. I scrambled after my mother, asking and trying to check if she was okay.  She did not answer my inquiries for a long time.  As I was about to go for help, I heard her let out a gasp for air that continued into loud, uncontrollable laugh.  She could not respond because she was laughing too hard!  To my embarrassment, she also could not get out from under the car for several minutes because she was laughing too hard!  She liked to play around too.  As an adult, she got in a water fight with her best friend Betty inside our home, soaked everything.  In college I worked at a scrapbook shop.  She would happily come along with me on my shifts to scrapbook and talk with all the patrons for hours and then we'd go out to dinner afterward, closing down the restaurant.  I spent night after night, sleepily playing Boggle with my insomniac mother until I could no longer keep my eyes open.  I remember her often saying, "Just one more game."  She found joy in life; she made joy in life.

My mom was also a woman of great service!  She was one of the most generous people I know.  Financially, she would go without, or take less, in order to provide more for others.  She had a lot of physical ailments, which many would use as an excuse to hold back, but she found ways to serve that she could do despite her unable body. She offered to scrapbook for anyone she knew.  She'd take their piles and piles of pictures and lovingly compile them into books.  She bought the supplies and donated her time.  She scrapbooked more weddings of friends than I could keep track.  When a ward member's washing machine broke, she offered to wash and fold their families laundry and did so for months until they could afford a new machine.  When there were calls to be make for Relief Society, the Relief Society President knew Mom would make them for her.  She also volunteered to write letters monthly to many women in the ward that did not want physical visits from Visiting Teachers.  When I would say it was nice of her to do these things, she would always respond that she had the time, and she could physically do these things, so she did so happily.

Personally, I think these traits are pretty fabulous and admirable.  Obviously, my mother was a big influence on who I am and what I do with my life.  Anyone who knows me knows I also like to have fun!  This trait was passed down to me and I have embraced it.  I love to plan and host parties.  I love to socialize and to go out with family and friends.  I love to play games and to laugh.  I hope and pray that I am also known as a woman of service.  I try to keep the example of my mother's service as a guide for my life.  I want to be a help to others.  I want to show the love and care that I have for my friends and family in a tangible way.  Selflessness and charity are driving forces in my life.  I hope and pray that if someone is in need, they would know that I would happily and joyfully be there to help them.  As I have reflected upon memories of Mom today, I can see that she was all about enjoying life, and making life enjoyable for others.  Personally, I can't think of a much better way to live!  I am grateful everyday for the time I had with her and for her lasting influence.

Tonight as I was taking flowers to the mausoleum where she lies, I said to Greg that I am so sad she never got to meet our children, and how much I know she would love them,  He gently assured me that she knows our children and that she does love them.  I felt a comforting feeling telling me this was true.  I hope that through the stories I tell them and my actions as I follow her example of enjoying life and bringing joy to others, they too can know my mom and love her.

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2 comments:

Jenn said...

You said this beautifully Lera! Your mom was an amazing woman and I have so many fond memories of her throughout many different times of us growing up together. She always put a smile on my face and made me feel like another daughter. I also remember playing boggle with her late at night with you, and in fact I think that is why to this day, I still love playing boggle. She was such a good example of kindness and generosity and fun and will always be remembered.

Sariah Nichols said...

Your writing is beautiful, and it reflects our mom perfectly. She was so passionate about life and was such a fun, generous, and wonderful person. I know she is so proud of you. Love you. Love her.