Gratitude is a Choice
My mom taught me about gratitude a long time ago – needless to say, as I got older and ‘smarter’ I forgot most of it. Until I wrote her eulogy a year ago.
I wrote that I believed that a celebration of ones life however did not only lie in recounting aspects of their personality but in how they have impacted our lives. The marks they have made and left. The lessons that you have learnt, the wisdom that you have taken with you. That it was about the stories that another has the courage to share. These are the true gifts given and that this is ones legacy.
My mother taught me about responsibility and courage. About empathy and kindness. She would say that empathy is essential and kindness is a choice. Choose kindness. She taught me that love, mother, daughter are verbs. But the most precious lesson my mother taught me was gratitude. Her lessons were not always delivered eloquently – my sister complained while pregnant that her feet were sore and my mom turned around and said, "Be grateful you have bloody feet." My mom took pleasure in long baths, bare feet on grass, Sunday afternoon naps, walking her dogs, her children and grandchildren's happiness and laughter.
She taught me that taking pleasure, finding joy and being grateful for what I have right now lays the foundation for a life well lived. That you can stop and hear the birds sing, feel the sun on your face, feel the warmth of an embrace, the quiet of the early morning. The best moments my mother and I had were the ones just sitting on her bed while she knitted and I read, surrounded by lazy dogs, the sunshine streaming in - a quiet contentment, a sense of knowing, a space of love - pure gratitude for time and space shared.
I realized that the moments where I felt most present, most connected and most joyful where those moments where I was expressing gratitude. The moments and memories that I recall of and with my mom, the ones that make my heart sing, that fill me with love are everyday moments – and that’s what gratitude is – expressing thanks for life every day – a smile, a shared meal, your moms scent that makes you feel home, a hug.
Gratitude makes it enough. Of course I feel sadness and a sense of loss, of course I miss my mom but when I look at it with my gratitude lens – how amazing to have that relationship, how wonderful to have her as my mom, how much inspiration, so many lessons and such love.