Things My Mother Said to Me

What do you do when it’s Mother’s Day and your mother is only a memory? I guess you take some time to remember.

My mother was a kind and loving person with a simple Christian faith and a multitude of friends. She had three sons, but lost the oldest of them in World War II. As a Christian and loyal American she accepted that loss, but she felt the pain of it all the rest of her life. I was her youngest son. Although mother has been gone for many years now, I still feel her love and influence. 

Like everyone else, mother thought about the meaning of life and what it meant to live it well. I was given the strong impression that my life was important and that I had a responsibilty to make the most of it. I was given the strong impression that the success of my life depended not only on what I did for myself but what I would do for others. In other words, I had a moral and social responsibility. And this coincided with my responsibility to God, my maker. In mother’s view, we all had responsibilities to be taken seriously. Many of these were reflected in her repeated sayings.

Study hard.

Always do your best.

Do unto others and you would have them do unto you.

Be polite.

Turn the other cheek.

Mind your own business.

Take our time.

Wait your turn.

Make yourself useful.

As I remember those sayings and get reminded of them in daily living, I realize there was other advice my mother never gave. She never advised about getting even if others did you wrong. She wanted me to succeed but not at the expense of others. The idea of advancing yourself by putting others down would never have occurred to her. Nor did the excuse that the end justifies the means, and you should do whatever you need to do to get ahead. Mother believed in right and wrong, and that no personal gain was worth the cost of doing wrong to get it.

I have not always followed these teachings, but I have never forgotten them, or failed to remember them when I contemplate moral choices.

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