61: A Special Place in Heaven

61: A Special Place in Heaven

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Amazing Mom

A Special Place in Heaven

A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.

~Diane Mariechild

“You are a wonderful mother.” I would tell my mother that often. At age ninety-five, when she reflected back on her life, that’s what was most important to her. Over a cup of coffee, she would often muse, “I hope I was a good mother. I wanted to be the sort of person that my own mother was. They didn’t come any better than that.”

My mother was the oldest daughter still at home when her mother’s longstanding heart condition worsened. She was forced to drop out of school in tenth grade and watch her dream of becoming a nurse evaporate as she helped her mother with the younger children.

When I was a child and we visited my mother’s family I would watch her withdraw when her younger sisters talked about their nursing careers. Her bright blue eyes would reflect her sadness, which I didn’t understand at the time.

She had wanted to be a nurse. But instead, she helped raise her siblings and then she raised her three.

She had wanted to be a teacher, too, but instead spent hours at the dining-room table helping her siblings and then her children with homework or science projects. She wanted to be a veterinarian, but instead spent long, sleepless nights trying to ease the suffering of our dog dying from congestive heart failure, and bottle-feeding kittens that were abandoned when their mother was struck by a car. She wanted to be a missionary and help children in another country, but instead spent many hours sewing nightgowns and pajamas for the Red Cross.

She wanted to be a hairdresser, but instead spent her time creating ringlets for school photos. I have struggled with stubborn hair my entire life, but when I look at old family photos, I am amazed at her talent.

She wanted to be able to provide for us in a way that her parents could not always provide for her or her siblings. During times when my dad’s business did not have a favourable year, she would stay up late at night and knit new outfits for my dolls so I would always have presents for my birthday.

She became the “go-to mother” for kids whose parents worked. A child with a skinned knee, or just someone needing a cookie and a hug, would find her way to our house. She loved them all and they loved her back.

She wanted to travel the world, but instead bought me a suitcase for my graduation and encouraged me to “travel while you are still young.” I remember how excited she was when they left me at the airport for my first trip to Europe. And I remember seeing the relieved smile when she saw me walk out of the airport upon my safe return.

She was quiet and unassuming. She always looked for the good in everyone, even when it was harder to find in some people than others. She loved my father in a way that can only be described as a match made in heaven, and he loved her with equal intensity. She was kind, caring, and devoted, and always thanked God for the life she was blessed with.

At the end, she reflected back on her life and realized that she did achieve what was truly important. A framed poster on her wall said simply, “There is a special place in Heaven for the mother of three girls.” It was worth more to her than any of the degrees she so coveted as a young woman.

To me, it makes no difference. When I looked at her I saw a nurse, teacher, veterinarian, motivator, wife, friend and, most importantly, the best mother ever.

~Brenda Leppington

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