I Skype with my mom almost every morning. We are pajama clad, bed-headed and sleepy-eyed. One cup of coffee maybe. But there is a small window of opportunity to be with her each day, something I have missed living in a different state for almost twelve years now. Before Skype, our conversations were often but short. Now they will last over an hour.
There is something about seeing her face, the way her eyes light up when she smiles, or the way she doubles in half every time she belly laughs, that really make her feel closer than just a voice on the other end of the line.
When I think of my mom, I think of piano and harpsichords. I hear choirs of recorders and strums of guitar. My mom introduced me to poetry, literature and James Taylor. I remember singing hymns side by side on our piano bench. But it’s not anything that my mom did in my childhood that really stands out, it’s all the things she didn’t do.
She never gossiped about friends, neighbors, or family members. She was never mean, hurtful or rude even at her worst. My mom never cared about race, religion, sexual preference, or politics. She never spoke ill of my dad or disrespected him. She never missed a concert or play. She never forgot to laugh at a dumb joke or story told at the dinner table. She never said, “In a minute” or “maybe later”. My mom never missed a meal with us. She also never turned anyone away at dinner time. She never insulted me or purposely embarrassed me. My mom never tried to compete with me. She never tried to be my friend or bargain for my affection. She never lied and she never hid the truth. She never put herself down or openly compared herself to other mothers.
My mom never forgot to kiss me goodnight.
What my mama did was show me what a woman of integrity and character looked like, a woman who could be trusted and honored. A woman who taught me the importance of being rather than doing.