Inspiring Okeechobee: Mothers provide constant inspiration

OKEECHOBEE — I couldn’t help but write about mothers this Mother’s Day weekend. It has been a bit of a struggle if I might be honest just to start this Mother’s Day article, because I have been on my own since the age of 21, when my earthly mother was called to her heavenly home. This defines the adult me though. On that day in June of 1989, I became the mother to my father, brother and my nephew who would later become my son (Lord help them, or me). It is amazing the things that mom taught me, that I still use to this day.

Use your toes! You would think this is going to be something prophetic, but it’s not really. My mother was masterful at picking up things with her toes.

She taught me this trick! She said, “Oh, it’s so much easier so you don’t have to bend down every few seconds to pick something up.” I highly recommend you practice this skill. Who knew that this would be a skill that I would need post back surgery, as the back just doesn’t bend like it used to?

Laugh. Oh, could she laugh and tell the best of jokes. Most of them were a bit off color for the day, but now they’re perfectly fine. She was the best joke teller this side of the Mississippi. Me, not so much! Mom made sure that she laughed and everyone around her laughed too. It’s good for the soul. Here’s one – no joke. We had a beautiful, leggy, Englishwoman visiting as part of a teacher exchange. I guess she asked to be “knocked up” in the morning. Of course, my mother with her quick wit, said, “Well it better not be by him (my father)!” Of course, the Englishwoman meant “to be awakened.” My mother laughed over that for years.

A good cry was refreshing too. Mom tried to break the German curse of fixing hurt with food, but it was not to be. We can still feed away any bad moods, kids with hurt feelings, and boo boos with food. Nothing fixes a bad day like a warm, fresh-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookie.

Hide money, because you never know when you might need it. This rule could apply to anyone in your life that likes to spend two quarters when they only have one. My dad did this routinely. I was always the one that knew where the money was stashed, in case “something happens to me,” she said.

Oh sure, we had money in the bank; but mom knew there would be times that he would miscalculate and there she was pulling money right out of the piano!

Fighting with your brother. It’s okay that you fight with your brother everyday (even though she couldn’t stand it). The caveat was that NO ONE could pick on you without the other one’s intervention. If one goes down, you both go down. You are your brother’s and sister’s keeper. We still argue for the most part, but are too old to chase around the house destroying the knick knacks or the fireplace hearth. Thank goodness for superglue is all I have to say about that!

Not attending church was not an option. If you were too sick to go to church, it was likely that you were too sick to do much of anything else. Think about acting up in church too — yikes. We didn’t know the words, “Wait ‘til your dad gets home.” Mom always thought it was kinder to the older folks if we sat on the second pew. I truly believe it was that she could walk us down the “aisle of shame” before the sandal came off. Mom took care of business on the spot!

Mom taught me so much about how to be kind to others, have a servant’s heart, mind my manners (I still fall off the wagon now and again), be a good wife and mother. She is my needle to the compass of my life. Although many others have helped to mother me like Aunt Carole (her sister, who is my confidant, defender, guide, and loves me like her own), Aunt Dianna (my dad’s sister who makes me channel my inner daredevil), Joy Daniels (mom extraordinaire who is resting in heaven now after years of my best friend and I camped out in their house), Elsie (a woman who the moment I met her at church, I knew that she and mom were kindred spirits), Elia (my mother in law who promised to care for me all those years ago, at my mother’s dying request), there is just one Mom for me. You would have loved her, my friends.

I see glimpses of her every day in my looks, my words, my movements, my actions and most proudly my deeds.

Happy Mother’s Day to you Mom and to all moms who mother not just their own on this day, but those who like me and my grandchildren need a bit of extra TLC when this day rolls around every year.

Leah Suarez is a freelance writer.

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