I've loved Lincoln's words about his mother from the first time I heard them--they rang so true to my own experience--and over the past few weeks I have thought of it more often and felt its message more deeply than usual. Maybe because it's Mother's Day season with cards and promotions everywhere, or because this is my first Mother's Day as a mom myself, or because this is the first time in seven months I'm not living under the same roof as my mom. I actually think all those things add into it, but the biggest reason is probably that my Mom has managed over the past twelve months to serve me and my family in even more invaluable and selfless ways than usual. If you know my mom at all, you know what an amazing feat that actually is.
My mom is one of those people who has managed to transcend the selfish tendencies of human nature to feel just a little twinge of "I'd rather be..." when serving others. For a lot of people, it's subtle, almost inaudible. Most people choose to ignore it. But for my mom, she genuinely doesn't have it. There is no "I'd rather be..." when she's helping or serving someone, because that is what she'd rather be doing: serving.
A while back, Fabio and I were trying to think of what to get her for her birthday. Fabio said, "What does she really really love?" I thought for a moment, listed a few things she likes, and Fabio stopped me. "No. Those are things she likes. What does she love?" We both sat silently for a few minutes, thinking. Finally, Fabio said quietly, "She loves to serve, doesn't she? That's what she loves." I nodded. It didn't particularly help us think of a gift for her, but it did leave us both with new love and respect (and aspirations to be more like her).
In the past twelve months, my Mom has (1) flown to Tucson to watch Fabio graduate, then almost single-handedly pack our things into boxes to move because I was pregnant and Fabio had surgery; (2) Drove with me to Utah while Fabio drove the Uhaul; (3) shopped with me and helped me make sure I had everything I needed for a new baby; (4) flown to Singapore to help me unpack and set up my house since then I was even more pregnant and Fabio was busy with a new job; (5) navigated Singapore with me, learned all the expat lessons the hard way with me, saw all the tourist spots with me, and went with me to every doctor's appointment; (6) waited all seventeen hours in the labor and delivery waiting room while I was in labor with Jonathan (they only let husbands in the delivery room); (7) helped care for Jonathan while I recovered from delivery and tried to cope with horrific mastitis; (8) took care of my home while I recovered from delivery and tried to cope with horrific mastitis (including washing Fabio's underwear); (9) canceled her flight back to Utah when I was admitted into the hospital; (10) completely took over care for Jonathan and the house while I was hospitalized, except for when she sat by my bedside in the ICU, stroking my hair and reading General Conference talks to me; (11) packed and cleaned my giant, gross surgery wound every day for almost three months; (12) flew with me to Utah to visit friends and family and again shopped, played and explored with me, and again took Jonathan most nights so I could get my rest and recover. I could go on, but those are the big ones. Not to mention the fact that she served in our church congregation here in Singapore and even helped clean the church on Saturday!
A friend of mine here in Singapore said to me, "I really think your mom is the most Christ-like person I have ever met." Well put. I feel the same way.
The most wonderful thing is, she has also managed to be the most humble and sweet person. There are no pretenses about her. She serves because she really loves people, not because she thinks it will make her look good or because she hopes people notice and thank her. She's funny, too. So funny. I can't count the number of times Fabio and I laughed so hard we didn't make sound while she stayed with us. She is a great travel companion because she's up for anything, and amazingly easy-going. I genuinely believe I had the best and happiest childhood possible, thanks in large part to her creativity, good-nature, thoughtfulness, and spontaneity.
I love my mom. Today more than most days, I miss my mom (Fabio can tell you that's really saying something). I want to be just the kind of mom she was and is. After all, "all that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother."