Because My Mother Did

I some times have to remember why I do certain things, a certain way and most of the time.  My usual response is because that is what my mother did.  It is not that she taught me to do it.  She just did it that way, and so do I.

Today is a perfect example in more ways than one.  My cell phone rang and it was the wrong number.  When I responded to the caller’s query of asking for a person that wasn’t me, I said:  I am sorry, you have the wrong number.  Really?  I am sorry?  I didn’t even know this person and she had interrupted me.  Yet, I was sorry she hadn’t gotten a hold of the person with whom she wanted to speak.  I am truly sorry for many things I have done in my life and equally sorry for those things I failed to do.  However, not being the person the mysterious caller wanted doesn’t fall into either of those two categories. Yet, I apologized.  Because my mother did.  Or told me that I should.  It was part of being courteous to others, even if you didn’t know them.  And tomorrow, should you call me in error, I shall probably express my regret that once again I was a wrong number.

I also make my bed every morning.  Except when I am sick—and I have to be very sick.  I am not sure the sheets are as neatly tucked in as they should be but the cover is on, the pillows are fluffed and the blinds are opened.  My sister did the same. The dishes are out of my sink, a task  I thank the inventor of the dishwasher to help me accomplish. My mother’s motto was that if your bed was made and the dishes were out of the sink, you had a neat house.  It has stuck with me ever since, though my shoes are often thrown onto my closet floor and my pots are never neatly arranged.  My mother didn’t mention those activities, so I  conveniently close the doors that hide their disarray. I have met her standard, at least for one more day.

One more tale.  Many years ago, we were on our way to the airport to pick my mother up to spend Christmas with us.  The house was decorated with trains, tree and tinsel—we were ready for the celebration.  As I was putting on my coat to leave, I looked up and my gaze fell on my dining room chandelier.  The glass globes were dusty.  I gasped as I relayed the news to my husband—my mother was about to arrive and my chandelier was not up to her scrutiny.  He quickly dismissed my anxiety by stating that with the house decked out in all its holiday glory, she would never notice.

Well, he didn’t really know my mom.  15 minutes in, after she put her suitcase in the spare room, taken off her coat, and complimented my husband on his decorating skills, she turned to me and said: You must be very busy at work.  I agreed that the end-of-the-year was always hectic.  She lovingly took my arm and lamented: I know you must be, otherwise you would have had time to clean your chandelier. 

From that moment on, I realized that there are times that I need to see the world through other people’s eyes, not just mine. 

Life-long lessons taught by a woman who didn’t know she was a teacher.

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