The Measure of a Woman

I don’t remember my mother ever having the cold or flu. She must’ve had her share, especially in the sharp New York winter. She remains healthy in my memory because she never took a day off, never took a nap, never complained. Not even when the needle flew off the Singer and disappeared into her finger. Between the waitressing years in New York, Mom sewed for the giant garment industry that Latino and Asian immigrants pinned their hopes on in the 70s and 80s. The heaps of cut fabric she brought home in the metal shopping cart, they literally called homework. It enabled her to raise her kids and stay involved in my early schooling. Mom did everything fast. She would feed polyester rectangles through the machine and recruit me and my little brother to flip them into shirt collars. At two cents a piece, time was the enemy. She ate a lot of dust.

The older I grow, the smaller I feel in the shadow of my mother’s sacrificial silence. I grew up exasperated with Mom, but her threshold of patience in marriage and motherhood was a lot higher than mine. I am not only a verbal woman, I am a vocal wife. Thanks in part to the freedom of speech this beloved Land of the Free so fiercely protects, the culture of rights I am privileged to claim citizenship in. Thanks in part to a man who works to give me all I need and ask for. And most absolutely thanks to a nature that still begs tempering. I’ve been able to trace my defensive offense to the years of feeling my needs were not met. Many things in the home needed my care,  including my parents, at times. So the anger is really fear. As helpful as this insight has been, it’s no ticket out of jail. I need to be humble. Need to love. I worship a God who exchanged his rights for a cross.

MomKitchenI don’t have the patience and gentleness for my son that Mom had for me. How dare I draw myself up to her small frame in these comfortable shoes that cost more than what she ever spent on her own tired feet? It wasn’t just waitressing that her legs ached from. She stood hours in the kitchen over the traditional side dishes that every meal called for. Did you know Korean food is misogynistic? When I dug up this picture of Mom, I was surprised at the poor quality of the photo. It had stuck in my head as a beautiful shot, one of my favorite of hers, because it shows her radiant slaving away in a hole with no ventilation in a tiny apartment. And then my grandmothers had it even harder. No appliances to keep up with the laundry for a family of eight or nine. My mother’s father passed away when Mom was three, leaving Grandma to flee on foot with six children when the communist North invaded Seoul three years later. My mother became the youngest in the family when her brother, three years old, died en route from the pneumonia they could not treat in the winter flight. They buried him on the road and this and the rest my grandmother endured with silent heartache and grace. If unassuming, unreserved sacrifice is the measure of greatness, surely greatness diminishes with each generation. Or is it just me? I am probably the weakest link in my line. No, I don’t believe all the women before me were virtuous, and I know of many among Mom’s generation who even abandoned their own. I’m talking of the times and culture. Though I may shoulder my hearty share of struggles, my days aren’t heavy with the desperation I sensed in Mom when I was a child. The small matter of war aside, she and the women before her had to push through resistance just to procure the basics. Korea was poorer then, and immigrant life tougher than the country that shut no door on me as I was growing up. Living seemed to have required more fortitude. There are things I do better than Mom did. Like many of us, I determined to be a different parent. But my savvy turns out to be simply a matter of knowledge and opportunity – from the education my mother paid for with her very self. I had set out to do better but I now see that every success of mine is the dream she chased.

282 thoughts on “The Measure of a Woman

  1. What a wonderful post – insightful, honest, and loving. Your mother’s beauty shines through in that photo – not just her slim elegance and pretty face, but the fact that her beauty was more than ‘skin deep.’ Beauty rendered in willing service to those we love has a refinement and elegance that is very different from that of a model or television star.

    Thank you for sharing your feelings about your mother and about your own journey. You always leave me wishing to know more about you and your thoughts on culture, life, and family.

    I understand that you are Korean, but your insight and introspection puts me in mind of novelist Amy Tan.

    • Amazing feedback, Kate. Eloquent thoughts on beauty. “You always leave me wishing to know more about you and your thoughts on culture, life, and family.” You throw me in for a loop. *Shrug* I’m only…me. Just goes to show how conscientiously and caringly you read me.

      Just so grateful for you.

      Diana

  2. Thank you for your thoughts… so precious and dear. How we sense ourselves through our mother and come up with hearts full… and sometimes with tears falling…

  3. Seeing you wrote a post on your Mom, I knew it would be a wonderful post, and I’m glad i read every bit of it, because it really is wonderful!! I have had the pleasure of knowing some women in my life who are as /almost as hard working and sacrificing as your Mom, and they have always amazed me for the strength and steely determination they possess.

  4. I have worked with Koreans who had to flee on foot from the Communists with nothing but a change of clothes, little or no money and the daily desperate search for food. Today they sit on top of the administration pyramid in many countries and the people prosper generally. My parents went through the great depression and fought their way up from poverty to prosperity and respect in the community. How many of our present generation would be able to make that transition and have the will to make sacrifices to achieve that end? Very few I’m afraid. Your Mother has my deep respect!

    • You nailed it, Ian – what I was getting at. The question of what relatively comfortably postmodern life does for/to the spirit (conversely, what adversity does and how it can encourage achievement and greatness) is something I keep circling back to. I agree with you. Thank you for the heartfelt word on my mother and the conscientious read.

  5. Greatness in that sense is diminishing, really. I am somewhat the same as you are when it comes to the art of taking crap from others and smile like my mom did and as well as my grandma. But I think, time is the greatest teacher. Circumstances have the power to change. Probably, you will start behaving like your mom or grandma some day. Like I am very much like my grandma now. My mother’s death has changed me a great deal. I am still struggling to be a patient person though. It is tough.

    • It’s so sad it takes losing a loved one to change. But that is beautiful that you are and can say that you are like your grandma now. Thanks so much for connecting.

      Blessings,
      HW

  6. D, why are you always bringing me to tears??? What is that about you??? This was beautiful, sentimental, endearing, and lovely!!! It’s so true our mom’s did go through it, as we ride on the coattails of their opportunities missed or not even given. I especially loved where you said…” I worship a God who exchanged his rights for a cross.” Yes, he did!!! I guess it makes me think of my mama, who passed away 20 years ago May 21 of this year. Wow, she’s been gone a long time and I still miss her like it happened yesterday, passing away when I was 29 years old is a tragedy!!!

  7. “My anger is really fear.” This resonated with me. In reading Native Son by Richard Wright, Bigger Thomas, the Protagonist in the novel yells at his mother, not because she is wrong but because he cannot help her and it makes him crazy. I understand the diminishment of one’s self-concept against the background of those who came before and laid the groundwork for your words. My father came from the same situation, his father an immigrant died early, his wife had to raise the kids; there were like 8 or 9. Two died very young. They all lived in a garage. My father attended Yale and Stanford via the navy. He became a Urologist. How was I supposed to better that? But, he died by the time I was 10. It all seemed pointless. Love, love, love is all there is. Thank you, as you are a frequent contributor to my experience of awe and amazement.

    • I found myself nodding to “yells at his mother, not because she is wrong but because he cannot help her and it makes him crazy.” Totally got it, his fear in the powerlessness.
      And the rest of your thoughts zinged me, too. Such a shame, how short he lived, esp for his achievements.

      “Love, love, love is all there is.” I am humbled by the reminder, MS. Brings to mind the simple and powerful truth I came across in college, that it is the humble heart that does not anger. Which means, according to what I pointed out about anger, that in humility and love we recognize and relinquish the desire for control.

      You surprise me with the closing praise.

  8. Beautiful tribute to your Mother and Grand-Mother Diana. The times we inhabit are different than their times were. There is a core of steel in some people – obviously your Grand-Mother and Mother and now you. How we express it is a matter of circumstances. There is no doubt in my mind that your Parents and Grand-Parents are very proud of you at this moment. As a person of Faith, I am sure that they are aware of who you are and what you have done with what they struggled to give you. And if what I have seen of your Faith and heart and intellect is any indication, then you are doing them proud. Your trials and tribulations will be different than theirs but no less important. Thank you for the wonderful descriptions of their lives and thank you for being you.

    • Such a dear man. A shame that I knew little of Grandma though she helped raise me when we came to America. The last time I saw her in NY, I made it a point to kiss her with an “I love you.” I knew I wouldn’t see her again, and she has since passed. Unheard of among Koreans, even Korean-Americans to show such affection – esp when it comes to grandparents bc thAt generation did no such thing. She was invisible in the family, as much as she took care of us all and as much as my mother loved her. Always amazed me to consider the snippets of her life I knew of. I truly feel I am not half the woman they were and are but your heart comes through, Paul. It is an honor – and a surprise – to find myself being able to tell the world pieces of their tale and find readers responding as they are. Actually, it was the Race that opened me to consider sharing more personally – the thought of opening windows into my past and culture I had dismissed, not wishing to waste people’s time.

  9. I love your story, your openess, your honesty, the inspiration it feeds my heart. I would have still loved it even if you did not write it in beautiful prose with sentences I wish I had written.

    “If unassuming, unreserved sacrifice is the measure of greatness, does greatness diminish with each generation?” No, in my opinion. The times are different, the sacrifices we make are therefore different, but no less in meaning. We cannot write our own tribute. You have written one for your mother. I hope that our children will write one for us.

    • !! More chills! Timi, you’re something. I don’t feel I am the woman my mother and grandmother were, griping about trying to keep up with a house four times the size of their apartments and dreams. No, certainly not that I have it all easy. Just because you live in a big house it doesn’t mean life is peaches and cream. But something nags me about the comforts I take for granted that keep my life running a lot more efficiently than theirs did, and the impact on my character. More on this in the next post.

      As to the prose, you are one of the best writers I have come across on WP. In part why I invited you into the special post.

  10. Lovely post, Diana. I too love that picture of your mother. Elegance indeed, with a strong aura about her and the weight of her history not cracking down on her the way it would others. Choosing to prosper and do her best than wallow in defeat. It’s comes from within, and you share this light for us to hold up and examine and draw strength from.

    Fear certainly begets anger. It’s the emotional food chain. Everything that I do comes down to two thing – fear or love. Where do I move from? Where do I choose (or not choose, in some instances) to approach from? Easier to come out of fear, as it feels hardwired, but it’s softer and stronger to come out of love. At least for me it does. And those needs you spoke of, those unattended needs…so many of us come from that place. It’s a difficult one to navigate, but you see this and know where you are coming from. Insight that will move you to new places, indeed.

    I wonder, though, how your mother saw herself. I am sure it’s a bit different than through the eyes of her daughter. But what a wonderful tribute to you mother.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    Blessings,
    Paul

    • Comment and after comment on this board, I’m blown away. And there’s you. Oh, Paul. Actually, you put your finger on (among other things) how elegant everyone always found Mom. She’d throw on a cheap old blouse or dress like the one in the shot and transform it into something that looked more costly. Awesome insights on the emotional food chain and such wisdom in how and from where we approach life and people from. I will send this to hubby.

      Interesting question: for much of her life – perhaps mostly adult – Mom lived with the opposite of the affirmation she heaped on me. I was careful not to misrepresent her as a dynamic force not to be contended with in the Mother’s Day group post. She was very simple in some ways, not highly educated either. But her grace and fortitude in the unspeakable suffering and injustices I would’ve come at Mafia-style overshadow my old snooty perceptions of her every year I am a mother struggling to keep all the balls – and life – in the air. The book I have really wanted to write, though I don’t see a way I could attempt such a thing given the issue of time and my circumstances, is Mom’s bio. Just so sad that I haven’t had the opportunity to sit and record her, as we live on opposite ends of the country. Thanks for listening, Paul. MVP reader and writer, you.

  11. When I read your memories of your mother and reflect on how she, and previous generations have shaped you, I am minded of something which, the older I become, reveals its truth to me; legacy. The lives of our parents, grandparents and those who came before them, have all contributed to the inheritance in which we walk today, collectively and personally. Some things we have inherited are measureless and glorious. Others less so. But we have a choice over the legacy we choose to take as ours. For me, I want that to be the faith in God I saw my parents live; and in turn, that’s what I want my children to choose as their inheritance from me.
    Thank you for your beautifully written honest and moving tribute to your mother.

    • Yes, Julia, I’ve been thinking of the legacy you describe. While writing this post, I detoured to another post on the legacy I might leave my son. Just spilled from me, not sure I’ll actually post it. I was asking what he will choose to take of what I leave him, as you say. And I struggle everyday with the gift of faith and obedience I long to pass on to him. I fall so short. He and I say to each other at times, “I’m so sorry. I’m a sinful [boy/mother]. Please forgive me.” And we run to God.

  12. What an amazing woman your mother was. She reminds me of my grandmother and how she struggled throughout her life to turn her children into something. In Pakistan most mothers continue to play a sacrificial role. It’s how they have been designed, so to speak.

    • Yeah, Nida. It’s the culture I was getting at. The very air is different in each culture. Call it mores, custom, brainwashing, conditioning. The culture set up our grand/mothers for certain hardship we (and those in the U.S. esp) are free from. And those who chose to take up the call rose to the occasion and came out like gold. My son and I watched an artisan make glass vases last week. Glass-blowing. The furnace was literally 2028 degrees farenheit. Has to be that hot to melt glass, make it pliable. And become beautiful art. Our furnace in postmodern times just isn’t as hot as it was in our grandmothers’ days.

  13. Deeply felt and thoughtful piece, D. I think back on my parents’ life, and it does seem that living required more fortitude, although we have our modern trials they could not imagine. I particular like your thought: “As helpful as this insight has been, it’s no ticket out of jail.” Your heart may feel it, your mind might think it, but you still have to summon the will to change.

  14. Love this, D. So reverent and thoughtful. Your mom is beautiful despite the sepia effect. You look like her. I sensed a guilt undertone to your post: that you have it so much easier than your mom and grandma, and demonstrate less grace than they did. But, ask yourself: isn’t this what they wanted for you? Isn’t this what they sacrificed for? And, although our generation has appliances and fewer financial worries (if we are lucky enough to be be born into and/or move into middle class), we have other stress like living up to the tall examples of our ancestors, whom in our eyes will always have worked harder and exhibited more grace. Maybe I’m wrong about your guilt. Maybe I’m projecting, as we know I do!

    Lovely capture.

    Fondly,
    Elizabeth

    • “Maybe I’m wrong about your guilt. Maybe I’m projecting, as we know I do!” LOL. You had me all moved and warm and fuzzy until you made me crack the smile here.

      Right. You put your finger on the guilt I hadn’t spelled out. I don’t go around beating myself up with it. But for all the arrogant grumblings against Mom much of the time I was under her roof, I have come to see her with due justice as a mother myself and wanted, needed, to sound what I hope was rational praise, long due. Yes, that was my conclusion in the post, that all the benefits I enjoy are what she made possible in sacrifice.

      Thanks for being here.

      Xxx
      me

  15. A very touching post, D. I can see that you respect, admire and most importantly love your mother very much. She is one tough woman, working non-stop to raise her family. If your mum read this, I think she would be very proud she had a very thoughtful and loving daughter. Love manifests itself in different forms. After all, we’re all different people from different cultures and generations who express ourselves differently.

  16. So many memories of my mother surface as I read… memories of the work she did in the garden, orchard, barn and house. Often she went to the railroad right of way to gather greens for our dinner or the long fence rows to collect wild plumbs for canning. Mother was my mentor as I watched her deliver the baby animals who needed help or sew up the sides of animals torn by wild beasts.

    In an agricultural community, work was what cleansed and purged the soul; it truly proved the measure of men and women. Women in my ancestry worked to keep the family together and functioning. They labored to give emotional support to husbands and offspring. The ability to do meaningful work was our legacy–passed from one generation to another.

    To Be Of Use

    The people I love the best
    jump into work head first
    without dallying in the shallows
    and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
    They seem to become natives of that element,
    and black sleek heads of seals
    bouncing like half-submerged balls.

    I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
    who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
    who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
    who do what has to be done, again and again.

    I want to be with people who submerge
    in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
    and work in a row and pass the bags along,
    who are not parlor generals and field deserters
    but move in a common rhythm
    when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

    The work of the world is common as mud.
    Bothched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
    But the thing worth doing well done
    has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
    Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
    Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
    but you know they were made to be used.
    The pitcher cries for water to carry
    and the person for work that is real.

    Source: Circles on the Water.

  17. Diana, this is a beautiful tribute – honest, insightful and elegant. It is truly humbling when we can look at our parents not through the eyes of a child, but through the eyes of equals, seeing their sacrifice, their heart, their unrealized dreams, their simple servanthood. You have placed yourself in her shoes and have not come up short, only more aware, more able to move forward in grace.

    • I sure appreciate the affirmation, Susan. Love the way you put it: but through the eyes of equals, seeing their sacrifice, their heart, their unrealized dreams, their simple servanthood.

      Yes, it was just that, her simple servanthood against unrealized dreams (to be realized in her daughter) that overshadows my own challenges. Thanks so much for the gracious read.

  18. A beautiful and honest post! I think your mother would be please at your reflections. Each previous generation is unique as it reacts to the current time and situations. I sense you have your Mother and Grandmothers strength and fortitude it just comes out in different ways.

  19. The sincere vulnerability and introspective honesty make this a very touching and beautiful post, Diana. Moving, even.

    What I found most profound, and what was perhaps most innocuous, was this: “My anger is really fear.” I first came across this notion in a book by Jayne Major, Ph.D., entitled “Breakthrough Parenting.” It was part of a parenting course that I took, so I could demonstrate to the court some objective evidence that I was a competent parent. Sadly, objective evidence isn’t welcome in Canadian family courts.

    I have accepted this as being axiomatic; it is assumed to be true, without proof. It was an important insight for the healing process – journey of spiritual growth that I so needed, rather like Herman Hesse’s “Siddhartha.”

    Early childhood influences are so… influential, yet we often don’t come to appreciate this until later in life. The goal in life is not to measure up to anyone else’s expectations; this betrays an unconscious fear they won’t approve of us, or that we aren’t worthy of their love. Nor is it to “live up to” our own arbitrary expectations for ourselves, as this, too, betrays inner anxieties or fears of being unworthy or unloveable.

    We do not need to “be” anything or anyone, other than who we truly are. Living the life of a loving and reasonably virtuous person (i.e., tell the truth), one who truly understands herself and learns to accept herself and love herself (and thus others) in the deeper sense of the word, is, I submit, a better way to honour your mother’s sacrifices.

    As we learn to see deeper into ourselves and the early influences that shaped us, imperfectly in some regards, we must similarly learn to see deeper into our parents. It is when we gain such insight and learn to stop idealizing them that we grow in loving them as our parents; part of understanding who we truly are is understanding who they truly were. As we are all human, your mother’s tireless work to give you a better opportunity may have had a component of her own insecurity expressing herself. How easy it is for us as parents to think we are striving to ensure that our children “get the opportunities that we didn’t have,” when in fact we are projecting (to some extent) our own insecurities and anxieties about our own lack of worth or shortcomings onto our children.

    I’m not suggesting this is necessarily true, nor am I demeaning all that she did for you; merely, it is a question to consider. Also, this isn’t to say that one shouldn’t provide structure for children or to ensure some degree of reasonable discipline with regards to education or to help our children discover themselves and to grow, just that we should strive to ensure that this is done from unconditional love and not our own unconscious anxieties or fears.

    I make no claims to perfection as a parent in this regard, believe me.

    I, and certainly everyone who frequents this place, see the beauty in you, Diana. Your words and thoughts betray it. No accomplishment or external yardstick that you adopt will fundamentally alter this, nor will any accomplishment; this beauty is intrinsic to you, regardless of fears or anxieties to the contrary that may also reside within you.

    Whether or not this is an important milestone on the Holistic Journey is for you to decide, Madam Wayfarer. Regardless, this was a beautiful and touching post along the way.

    • Clarification: When I wrote “better way,” this was in a general sense and not a criticism of the current way. Apology if any part of my comment read as being disrespectful, Diana, as that was certainly not the intent.

    • I sure appreciate your time reading and writing here when your book and PR demand your attention, Nav.

      You help me spell out to myself something huge: for the way she pushed me – even demandingly at times – to excellence in school, I remained secure in my parents’ love and approval at core. Nothing shook me there. Though yes, I did strive to continue pleasing them with the school performance.

      As to:

      “live up to” our own arbitrary expectations for ourselves, as this, too, betrays inner anxieties or fears of being unworthy or unloveable.

      I’ve written on this, of course. I don’t think my standards for myself are driven by a sense of unworthiness. But I’m a mess (one of OM’s readers called me a HOT MESS LOL) I probably need to beat the bushes a bit.

      On the projection, as messy as inner lives can be, I don’t see Mom would’ve been immune to that in the way she urged me on and esp in the way she was able to praise me to friends. But she had few pleasures. I imagine reveling in her daughter was a reward she was happy to indulge in. And as I will be mentioning in the next post, for the most part she was just too busy trying to survive on unfamiliar NY ground to get too complicated about things.

      Disrespect is one attitude I will never be able to attribute to you, Navigator.
      D.

  20. This was very touching… Taught me to value and appreciate my mother more. There are some things that you can never repay but being grateful is always appreciated. Thank you for sharing this part of you with us. I salute your mother.
    Best wishes and much love. ❤

  21. I’m unaware whether your mother is still alive, but regardless she is/was an incredible woman. Your post makes me feel proud on her behalf, that she has such a loving daughter.

  22. Regarding: does greatness diminish with each generation? I absolutely do not think greatness diminishes- but I think the definition of greatness changes. I think our mothers and grandmothers before us would be so proud of our outspokenness and boldness, and consider that greatness, while we may look back at their work ethic and stoic expressions and think that is great. Greatness is in the eye of the beholder!

  23. Thanks for sharing your heart in this post Diana. I feel more of your pain, humility, thoughtfulness and obvious caring and respect for your Mother. Yes, she gave much and so do you. We all have different challenges, but the target is the same; to be more loving in this world. Blessings to you both.

  24. What a beautiful and insightful post. I have often wondered if each generation becomes “more diluted”. It’s hard to say. We are still reaching for goals, but not with the urgency or necessity that our mothers and grandmothers were. I honestly can barely imagine what that would be like. I suppose we just have to do our best to make them and ourselves proud.

    I’m sure women in other countries still feel that same urgency. We are so fortunate our families brought us through varying degrees of hell, to live in a place like this. Now, I think we give back. Make this place better. We still have fight in us. It’s just a different fight.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    • You really got what I was saying, Lindsay. “We are still reaching for goals, but not with the urgency or necessity that our mothers and grandmothers were. I honestly can barely imagine what that would be like. I’m sure women in other countries still feel that same urgency. We are so fortunate our families brought us through varying degrees of hell, to live in a place like this.”

      Thanks so much for your time and for connecting.

      Xxx
      Diana

  25. Gorgeous Mother, inside and out. You are her image, accept it and move forward. Your family will carry you forward in their hearts and minds – as well. You are not the ‘weak’ link. Your link is different, more flexible, more knowledgeable and strong in a new way. It’s o.k. to be strong in that new way (and sometimes weak in the old ways.)

    • Sigh. Amazing feedback I don’t deserve. I actually am at a loss for words. But that you motivate me to be better – at heart. ThAnk you. And we always heard she was beautiful, wherever she went.

  26. Oh my stars… You put into words the feelings of my heart, Diana! My mother is quite the hard worker as well. I’d love to live up to her.

    ” If unassuming, unreserved sacrifice is the measure of greatness, does greatness diminish with each generation? Or is it just me?”

    That rings so true with me. In those terms, I want to be great!

  27. Beautifully written D… and deeply felt. I am reminded of all the women today who raise children without husbands, and the tremendous sacrifices they make not only to survive but to give their children love, which is always a greater gift than mere creature comforts. I would bet, that as your mother raised you and saw the person you were turning out to be, felt that whatever sacrifices she made were many times repaid. –Curt

  28. What a lovely post, and insightful for me at the moment as I wrangle the road with my teenage son and wonder how my mom did it with 4 of us and much less abundance than I have in my life today – thank you.

    • Seriously. Even in America, times were tougher, through all the political upheavals and wars. We are so blessed. Happy to hear from you. =) Thanks for letting me know how and why this hit home. Let us give our family the grace we enjoyed growing up. Sigh.

  29. Appreciate the efforts of our parentes in every generation is a look full of significance for me. That´s the reason I would like to highlight the phrase ( Entenderse, aprender a aceptarse y amarse a si mismo) ;.. Without doubt this is the best way to honour the sacrifices of our mothers.
    Good for you!

  30. Wow. I leave you for a minute and return to some of the best writing to be found anywhere in the blog-o-verse! This is an exceptional tribute, memory, invitation to us all to look a little deeper at the roots that pushed us up and out into the world we now inhabit. Something tells me that what you’ve inherited from your mother is EXACTLY what you were meant to…

    • I’m chuckling, shaking my head: “return to some of the best writing to be found” I crawled through this post, wanting to retell it just so, and most certainly did not consider it such great prose. But yEs, you should know by now that my aim is to reflect back something of your own past. Grateful for the effusive praise and encouragement, K.

  31. Such a lovely tribute. And I think the kind of patience, virtue, and nobility required in each generation is different as life morphs into different needs. Your mom’s virtues would probably not fit at all in your current life. It would probably be a good idea for you to give yourself credit for having the virtues you do now.

    • *Smile* Shoot, I can’t wave your input away as mere graciousness, Mona, as your opinions and reflections are influenced by learning and education. =) I still don’t think I quite deserve to do as you suggest but point noted. Thanks so much for the ongoing support.

      Love,
      Diana

  32. This is such an impressive post… I never feel I can live up to the great standards my parents set out for me. Especially my mother, and the strength and admiration you show in your writing is such a beautiful tribute you give, and shows the strength in you as well. I think your Mom feels the same about her mom. You are one strong link in this incredible chain. Well done, and wish you the best!

    • It’s really amazing, Randall, the power we wield out here, the impact a comment can have. As unworthy as I feel to accept this beautiful encouragement, I bow and take. I was a proud little thing growing up well versed in the American culture and language I considered superior to the ways of my mother and grandmother. What I wrote was my awakening this past decade as a wife and mom. Miles to go before I sleep, before I can attain the stalwart nobility and grace of these women. But one foot in front of the other I place. Thank you so much for your presence and light.

      Diana

  33. Here is my two cents, your mother was a beautiful in the truest of ways where it counts the most…spiritually! She attained a wealth that many can only help to receive, but it comes with selfless love. I know because she reminds me of my mother! I do not remember but I know shortly after I was born, i acquired whooping cough and had it for nearly a year, and almost died from it. When I recovered i always seemed to be sick. But she never complained, and i never was missing a touch of her love in my life. In seeing her raise my 4 brothers and 1 sister, and dealing with my father…i have the greatest respect for her in my life…she was a true treasure who many cherished more than we did. She showered all around her with love and affection…that spiritual selfless love. She place the seeds of her gift within me, as her love shape the man I would become, and she taught me how do all things around the house that I might be an equal helpmate to my wife, whom I would spoil,just like I spoiled my mother. For my wife, my daughters, and my son, I worked tirelessly to give them what they needed…materially and spiritually, along with an unchanging love, that special nourishment my mother always gave me. There is no price tag one can put on that priceless gift. She once told me it would always be in my nature…because God wanted it to be that way…in my sickness God blessed me to see others with a spiritual eye. You are hard on yourself so often but you are a true genuine blessing. My wife’s nature is similar to your…but that is shaped by what is around you, coming daily in your life from this world, and it helps you to make it through life, just like it will do our children for their times will be harder than ours…but with that comes who you are…i see you more deeply my sister…and what I see deeply is very similar to your mother! You are a spiritual gift to many, sharing what touches deep within, embracing our emotions bringing us to feel and think…reminding us that we all are in this life together and we each can contribute in our own unique way a spiritual healing from words that change the complexion wonderfully of each new day that those we come to know always face! I had a rough week around Mothers day, and really did not fare well, so I hope yours was very beautiful. Keep writing and sharing…and always know every word you share is meaningful to our lives D! Spiritual hugs, love, and blessings always my sister!

    • “in my sickness God blessed me to see others with a spiritual eye.” Just love that, Wendell. I know how true that is. I’m saddened Mother’s Day was hard for you. But I know you pulled through and refuse to dim the light you shine on others. Thx for sharing your mother with us. I am humbled all the more by your testimony of her character. And you are too generous with the encouragement, W. But thank you, really.

      D.

  34. Your description of your mother reminds me of my grandmother. She lived through both world wars (a teenager in the first, a grown woman with children in the second), helped raising her four younger brothers, managed her family through hunger after World War II, constantly working, cooking, constantly loving. She never complained too, I never saw her sick. Got up early, went to bed late, but always gentle and loving. When she finally got weaker and needed care, her only concern was not to be a burden to her family. All she wanted was her loved ones to be happy and safe. I could never achieve her humbleness, her patience. She was so strong in her own way, and I cannot imagine what it cost her. I will be forever grateful to have known her.

    • Thanks so much for sharing something of your mother with us. I’m glad the post brought her to mind; never want to just talk about myself. I am becoming more convinced from testimony like yours that the women who came out the other end of war and more tenuous times forged hearts of gold and a will of iron that postmodern days simply have not called for.

  35. A very good story and much to think about. Many of us are what our mothers wanted for themselves and their children. Sacrifice and hard work was normal for our mothers. I know that it was for mine and someday maybe I can get up the nerve to write a bit of what my own mother endured as a child in Germany and then as a domestic here in the US.

  36. Your tribute to your Mom — for at its heart, a tribute it is — illuminates a deep-seated fear that the children of those who suffered catastrophic loss, displacement, war and upheaval harbor, namely, that by comparison they are altogether untested by life. But is that really so? Perhaps the first test was being truly present for one’s parent(s), both to bear witness to their struggle to move forward and to be a beacon shining a light on new possibilities. In the final analysis, perhaps your descendants, be it 100 or 500 years from now, will look on your life and marvel at your fortitude!

    • What beautiful reflections on being present for one’s parents. They do say every woman needs a daughter. I am the only one in the family who really has seen my mother and the load she has borne – and who can tell her story. I have to admit I don’t feel untested by life. I’ve had my share, as I said. But again, the times are so different. They simply don’t call for the grit our mothers and theirs had, in the developed parts of the world. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave me this gem of an encouragement. I am blown away by my readers.

    • “perhaps your descendants, be it 100 or 500 years from now, will look on your life” Actually, you managed to push me to consider writing my own story full with the gory challenges for their sake. They won’t know me if they have nothing to read of me. Profound thanks.

My Two Gold Cents in the Holistic Treasury

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