Dear Mother to More than Your Own,
I always knew you were unique and special…
…I mean, you were the only little Puerto Rican lady in our town! How could you not be unique? It’s taken a while, because much like I used to not hear your accent, I also didn’t always understand just how special you were.
Throughout my growing up years, I always knew you were loving and wonderful to me and glimpsed how special you were in others’ lives. It wasn’t something you flaunted. It was just something you simply did. But it wasn’t until years later that I realized even though I was an only child, you were truly a mother to hundreds of other kids too.
Growing up there were so many times I heard the phrase,
“I wish I had a mother like yours.”
“Your mom is so special. Don’t take her for granted.”
If I heard either of those phrases after being recently disciplined, I wouldn’t always take those messages to heart and might even rebut them a bit. Yet, the person would still insist that I didn’t know how fortunate I was.
And honestly, that was the truth. I didn’t know how fortunate I was to have a mother like you. It hasn’t been until the last handful of years that I’ve really appreciated the amazing gift from God you are.
I assumed quite wrongly that most mothers were like you:
- always willing to give a listening ear to whomever needed it,
- attentive to details,
- willing to put family above your own needs,
- and having a full love for God which has been an amazing example to me and my children.
You have always put God first and family second. So anytime you knew I needed help, even if I didn’t ask, you were immediately there helping in whatever way you could.
I’m not saying there are not other mothers out there with these same qualities.
I know there are other mothers out there like mine, and if you have one, you should thank God immensely too. What I am saying is that even though I was an only child, you graciously showered this same love onto others who needed it as well!
Yes, I was blessed to have been raised your only child and I love how you always “adopt” others as your children too.
You never fail to make others feel special and heard. You have always looked for someone’s potential to shine and brought that out in them! For all the thousands and thousands of students you taught over forty years, there were many who trusted you in ways they didn’t trust others. You were a sounding board they could come to when their lives were falling apart. They could trust you to be honest and give them good advice. They knew you would challenge them to be the best they could be and wouldn’t settle for letting them take the easy road.
I was amazed a few years ago, as I helped clean out one of the bedrooms in your house, how many past students and even kids who didn’t have you as a teacher but knew you from school, had taken the time to write you letters. As I sat on the floor, going through letter after letter, I realized just a small portion of the lives you have impacted. Not just my life or the lives of my children. Not just my friends who always wished you were their mom. And not just those who took the time out to write to you, but hundreds of kids! You invested time, energy, and encouragement into the lives of kids who didn’t have a parent like you!
May your legacy live on not only through me and my children, but all those you “adopted” as well!
A challenge for us all!
Your life has challenged me to make more time for others. To not rush through life, but to stop and see the unexpressed needs that others have. This seemed to come naturally to you and is a little more work for me, but I am up for the challenge. Christ challenges us all in a similar way:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
May each of us be willing to “adopt” others in our lives and treat them like family whether it’s legally binding or not!
This video is the perfect example of how caring for others like your own children can make a huge difference! Josh Shipp had some amazing foster parents who were like this and also had a teacher, my amazing mother, who saw something special in him that he did not yet see in himself.
God puts people in our lives for a reason. Take hold of each of these opportunities to encourage others.
“But encourage each other daily, as long as it’s called Today…”