I've known my mom for 30-some-odd years. Our relationship has been one long series of lessons.
I forget exactly what the first lesson she taught me was; at least the first that I remember and still try to live by. It may have been something about standing up for outsiders - those who didn't have anyone else to stand up for them.
Actually, it could've been how to slice a bell pepper the right way (top first). No, I got it! It was how to be a gentleman and always walk between a woman and oncoming traffic. I'm not sure that was it either, actually. At some point, I guess it becomes less about all these individual lessons and more about the collective sum.
But you know the thing about my mom and her lessons, is that class is still in session. She doesn't stop me from eating dessert before dinner anymore, or call me and ask if I've brushed my teeth before I go to bed. But she's still teaching me something all the time, whether she knows it or not.
Take this last year, for example. One year ago, my mom reluctantly retired after 40-plus years of teaching pre-school (yes, she was literally a teacher). Shortly thereafter, her mother passed away. Weeks later, her mother-in-law's health also turned south. More recently, she watched her house of almost three decades come crashing down for reconstruction. Did I mention my mom doesn't care much for change?
Yet true to form, my mom kept silently instructing all throughout. She served instead of hiding. She spoke calm instead of pitying herself. She prayed instead of withering. I've never loved my mom more, or appreciated the example of strength when it would've been so much more natural to fall weak.
I'm not sure what next year's lesson will be, but my notebook is wide open and pencil sharpened. Keep teaching, Mom. Because I'm still learning.