SUNDAY is Mother’s Day and, needless to point out, it will not be the usual kind of special day because of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Not only has our physical well-being been placed in danger because of the coronavirus, about all of those occasions that we’ve always held dear have either been cancelled or postponed. However, it is well to remember that a person can never be so isolated that he or she forgets the impact of a caring mother on life.
MY MOM, Betty Osborne, passed away nearly 30 years ago but many of her lessons, taught by her faith and example in my childhood, formed a lot of who and what I am today. As I’ve written in the past in this column I was a kid in an era when most moms were “homemakers”. Dad was the “breadwinner” back in those days while mom ran the household. Many of you reading this column grew. up in the same environment.
Mom, like most moms, always believed in my brother, Sam, and myself, and taught that we could do anything in life that we set our minds to do.
MOM, and dad too, always taught us, by example, about helping the poor and disadvantaged at a time when they didn’t have much of their own. As a child it wasn’t unusual for her to fill the family car with people who had little or nothing, and who most people ignored, and drive them to downtown Decatur to shop — and when they arrived, she shared what little money she had with them so they could buy something for themselves and enjoy the day.
MOM WAS never honored publicly for her unselfish work that she did for others because hardly anyone knew what she was doing — except me, and those whose lives she touched. I was observing it all as a kid and her actions molded a lot of my perspective on life. Mom had a way of looking at life’s struggles in a positive way regardless of the circumstances. When some people would start to gossip about others, she was quick to stop that kind of talk. Demeaning other people was not allowed in our home.
MOM always tried to see the other person’s point of view and the reasons they acted in a way that was hard to understand. Mom was never so busy that she didn’t have time to sit down and listen. Sometimes, when I was a kid, I would move the chest of drawers in my room away from the wall and stand behind it on a box to practice public speaking to the one audience member who sat before me — mom. Of course, she always thought my speeches were great! She never acted like she was too busy to listen to me. I’ve given countless speeches in my life to a lot of groups, large and small, but the best audience I ever had was the “audience of mom” when I was a kid.
IF SOMEONE would come into our home and compliment mom on a curtain or a throw rug that she had purchased, she would ask them “do you want it?” Sometimes a person would leave with a curtain, rug or some other item because she gave it away. She was happy to do so because it made them happy. Mom was like that. She often told me that God put us here to help others — and I still believe that should be a guiding principle of what we do with our lives. I have seen so much of that play out with those who are laying their health and lives on the line for others during this pandemic.
FORGIVING people was a way of life for mom. She often said: “If no one ever did anything wrong to us, we’d never have a reason to forgive them,” as if the person who wronged us gave us an “opportunity” to do the right thing. Over the years, both as a newspaper editor and serving in public office, there have been a lot of hurtful things said and done to me but “getting even” has never been an option — thanks to mom’s example. Mom would always tell me to ask myself what Jesus did to those who hurt him and that’s what I should do when someone hurts me — forgive them.
NO ONE gets through life without the help of many people along the way and I’m no exception. Mom taught, that in the darkest hours when it seems that no one cares, to always remember that God cares. The longer I live the more I appreciate the great parents I was blessed to have and the special Godly teaching and influence of my mom. During this terrible COVID-19 pandemic, her faith in God in all circumstances, will make this Mother’s Day even more meaningful and comforting.
(From May 6 print and online editions of the Decatur Tribune.)