Last Saturday night, for 2.5 hours, my mom sat and watched a cheer competition. Now, she didn’t know anyone on the teams she watched, but that was okay. She wasn’t really there to watch. She was there to learn.
My niece had competed earlier in the day and would be competing again the next day, so my mom said she wanted to learn more about what she was seeing. She wanted to learn the difference between a full and a tuck, a prep and an extension.
Not because she is that into cheer, but because she is that into her granddaughter.
When my boys play baseball, she learns all she can about pitches, strategies, and protecting the plate. When my daughter plays soccer, my mom learns the different positions and why the keepers do what they do. And when my other niece is swimming? My mom is learning all she can about the sport, and telling us all about how fast the girl can cross the pool.
Again, not because she’s into those sports – football is her thing – but because she cares about her grandkids and wants to understand their worlds.
She’s always been that way.
When my brother and I were growing up, she was not only Mom to us, but also to so many of our friends. She always kept the front door unlocked, an open invitation for people to come into our home, and into our lives.
Even after my brother and I no longer lived at home, friends would stop by the house just to see my mom. Sure enough, the door was unlocked.
The verse that makes me think of my mom is Proverbs 31:15:
She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants.
When I was growing up, my mom worked in a law office. At first, the office was in Orange County. It was a relatively easy, 30-minute commute, just a few miles down the freeway from our town. Eventually, though, the firm moved to downtown Los Angeles.
The 30-minute commute became at least two hours, usually closer to three.
In order to stay at her job – which she enjoyed, was good at, and paid a decent salary – she had to figure out how it would work. The only solution that would allow her to also stay involved in our church and be there for school events was to change her hours and utilize the rapid transit system.
This meant that every day she was gone from the house by 5:30 AM. Every single day, without complaint.
Getting up while it was still night, helping provide food for her family.
Now, my mom didn’t have female servants, but she sure did provide for other people. Whether it was donuts every week for the Sunday School class she and my dad taught, taking my friends out for lunch after church, or even taking gifts to the lady who cut her hair, my mom loved to give.
She still does.
She has a “fun basket” at her house, and my kids know that every time they go to Nana’s, there will be something new in the basket.
She even buys toys for our dog – and she’s not really a dog person. At all.
When I was in high school, my mom and I would walk every night. I used to think that we were just racking up miles, but now I realize that she had a method. She called it, “Walk till she talks.” And it was exactly as it sounds.
Every night, rain or shine, we would walk around the neighborhood. She would ask me questions, and the walk would continue until the one-word answers turned into sentences, and the shrugs became explanations.
It wasn’t an option. It was essential.
I realize, though, that with all of the walking and talking we did – and still do – that I never actually told her the one thing I really should have: Thank you.
So I will do it now.
Thank you, Mom. Thank you for showing me how to work hard. Thank you for teaching me how important it is to make sure that my home is a refuge – not just for my family, but for anyone who may need to come over.
Thank you for helping me see that small does not mean weak, and that a strong will, a strong mind, and a strong sense of self are some of the most important attributes that a woman – or a man – can have.
And thank you for being a woman of noble character, and for living the type of life that would inspire your granddaughter to write this note:
Nana, Jesus loves you. And I know you love Him too.
It doesn’t get better than that.
See you soon!