Extending Ourselves

I learned by example to lead with kindness.  My mom, despite the challenges she faced in life, always had room in her heart for anyone in need.  She was a die-hard volunteer and champion for the developmentally disabled – in part because of my sister’s circumstances and the compounding of physical and intellectual disabilities.  But more than that, mom knew she herself was broken and relished opportunities to serve others.

Coming from a family of dysfunction, she nearly raised her siblings – out of necessity – but as I look back on her life, I realize there were tandem motivations.  Obligation?  Sure.  When your own mother can’t mother, the eldest often steps in.  Mom/Sue did just that.  But I also believe she was motivated and driven by her genuine, tender-hearted nature that became a theme throughout her life.  Not just as she navigated hurdles for my sweet sister, Lisa, but how she was keenly attuned to hurt in others. 

There are days when I recognize that my intuitive nature came from mom.  She was a master at identifying unspoken pain (largely because she carried so much of her own).  Whether it was a gentle hug or a smile, Mom/Sue knew how to brighten the lives of friends, family…but most of all, strangers.  Or as she often put it “friends she just met”. 

As she grew older, addictions clouded her innate desire to help and dementia jumbled up the details, but everyone she met was a ‘friend’.  I believe her cantankerousness was perceived as an endearing quirk, which kept people close to her – less alienated – longer than otherwise likely.

Even toward the end, mom relished the opportunity to tell a bawdy, dirty joke.  Her repertoire was well-worn, but we laughed as if we heard each story for the first time…as she time traveled with humor.  Years on a barstool?  Highlights in her life, no matter which side of the bar she was on. 

Today, as I think about inspirations of kindness and caring, my mom is on my mind but so is Booker T. Washington.  Different as they were, they shared a life perspective that serves me well.  It’s all about ‘lift’.  Take a look and hop over to The Heart of the Matter to take a peek and share your thoughts in comments. 

Friday hugs,

Vicki ❤

16 responses to “Extending Ourselves”

  1. Oh, thanks for sharing this today Victoria. Your post serves as another reminder for me to look past the muck and and craziness that exists in families and see people as they are: as humans with both virtues and faults. Yes, we see the dysfunction, but there’s good too. I sometimes forget that. What a great tribute to your mom too. Feel like I’m there in the room. Have a great weekend!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are amazing Brian – your warm and uplifting comment makes my day! Thank you for being a great friend – connecting about the facets about our dear ones who were complicated souls. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aww, it’s not me. YOu’re the one writing the great pieces! Thanks for your friendship too Vicki, it really means a lot.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hugs and smiles…hugs and smiles…right back to you! 😊😊😊

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Vicki, your heartfelt portrayal of your mother does a great job of describing just how complex we human beings are, trying to make our way in a complex world. And despite dysfunction and challenges, you let your mother’s inherent goodness shine through.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow, Jane. You captured my intent with this post far better than I could’ve — my attempt to let her goodness shine through…leading with kindness despite her circumstance and her own pain. Complex beings…complex world. Yes! Sending hugs your way — thank you so much! 💕

      Liked by 1 person

    2. An Audience of One Avatar
      An Audience of One

      I agree with Jane. I love how you’ve chosen to focus on the good in your mother. I love the post in general, of course too, but that part really touches me. Beautiful said, Vicki! 🤍

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you, Kendra! I think you’re wired the same way…to see the good, see beyond the messier bits — at least as much as we can! 🥰

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Everyone she met was a friend — what an endearing approach. Beautiful! What I love is how you have done such a great job of cultivating the best of both of your parents. Your open heart is one great example!! ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Wynne. Complexity and gratitude — blended together! ❤️❤️❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Isn’t that beautiful?!! ❤ ❤ ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  4. “Friends she just met” 💚 What if we all thought of people that way?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, right?! Even though my mom was maddening in so many ways, her approach with people had gravitational pull. Of course, if you honked her off, you were done, over, finito! 😉 But until then…everyone was a friend. One of her most endearing qualities, for sure. Thank you for loving that as much as I do! xo! ❤❤❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m glad you have been able to put your mother’s foibles/personality into perspective, finding the good points while still acknowledging the less positive parts. At a certain age you have to let your parents be the people they were, not some idealized version.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes — what great, succinct advice that is, Ally. Not some idealized version. Thanks for that. 😘

      Liked by 1 person

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