A PORTRAIT OF GENUINE LOVE

No doubt good company makes an occasion, true friends give us a beautiful life while genuine love and trust bring out the best in each one of us. At this moment in time, I am watching my mother change before my eyes: her hair now all white getting thinner, her body becoming weaker, her movements becoming slower and cautious and her face growing more wrinkles. It is a mixed blessing and sometimes scary too. Out of this, I have come to really know and understand a mother’s genuine love. Many times she forgets her pains and aches to fuss over whether I slept well during the night, what I would have for breakfast or whether I was able to find the skimmed milk in the supermarket. It goes to show that motherhood never ends until you breathe your last. Here is a mother who has been giving, caring, helping others and making a difference through love and sacrifice for over sixty years and yet shows no signs of slowing down. Her face may be full of wrinkles but her spirit has not grown any. As she walked through her journey of life she was her parents’ daughter, someone’s sister, and someone’s friend. She became a midwife, a wife, mother and now a grandmother. All these identities have given meaning to her life and enabled her to change the world around her in some ways.

As a mother; she has loved and still continues to love unconditionally- just loving for its own sake. She still wakes up each morning to find what she can do to make others happy-putting other’s happiness before hers. It is the great love in her heart that fills her with the power to be bold , confident to care and save loved ones and be content to do it. Like all mothers of her generation, she would not think twice to walk through a storm or thick forest so as to save one of her own. It was family, friends, work and church activities that gave meaning to her life. As a midwife in an African country, she delivered thousands of babies over a period of forty years.

With a heart filled with genuine love, she protected, trusted and preserved us. Secure in her love, we were able to soar like eagles. She has always been patient and humble but take it from me, she has strict limits and can be assertive. Her simple rules in the home have to be followed for the sake of both parties.
She continues to nurture, instruct and empower all those around her. Now that there is a gradual reversal of roles; she is being more influenced by us the children and grandchildren other than her influencing us.

Over the years, she has learned to listen and value other people’s opinions. She has always found immense pleasure in our success and remembers the good about people other than the worse.
Initially, she never took kindly to the reversal of roles: being helped over some things and being cared for but over time she has gradually accepted it. She has lost so many family members and friends that she has had to start seeking inner peace and to accept her mortality. She now seeks to do more of the will of God. She is no longer interested in controlling or changing the world around her. She basks in the achievement of having raised seven children, given her gifts of compassion and generosity at her work place and having been a leader at family level and at the work place. What gives meaning to her life now is spending quality time with her children and grandchildren. She struggles to remain effective and relevant and does not want to remain locked into her old ways so she has turned her grandchildren into her best friends. She tells us that she is now living her second childhood but at a higher level than the first one: being spontaneous, playful and creative more so when she is in the company of her grandchildren.

I am happy that she has found a new identity during the last years of her long life. It gives meaning to her life and keeps her going. I admire her tenacity as she chooses to live one day at a time.
I would say that her age, she has earned the freedom to wear purple or pink and make up for the sobriety of her youth. To her great credit, there is mutual respect between us.

When asked about her most treasured dividend for her investment, she replies: “Watching my children and grandchildren doing things together, looking out for one another and sustaining the bonds of friendship between the three generations.”
She is incredibly thankful that the love and concern for one another continues to grow within her ever expanding family.
“God must have guided me into doing something right for you all,’’she adds.

“Yes, Mama, you continue to give effortlessly and gladly to your own and others; nurturing our bodies, minds and souls. Like a wave washing off the shore and returning to the lake, whatever love you gave and continue to give unconditionally, comes back to you,” I remind her.
She looks up and smiles that trademark smile of hers. I see that she is crying.
The famous Jewish quote of why God created Mothers comes to my mind: “God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers.’’

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