When I was 13 years old my mother turned 48 years old. Then two days later, she died from a stroke and brain aneurysm she had suffered a couple weeks prior. This as you might imagine was a turning point in my life. It is the point at which my perspective on life and living was permanently altered. However, this was only the beginning of my coming of age. Thanks to my family, my father, my sister, my brother and others who supported me, I was able to navigate my teen years and young adult life with relative ease despite my loss. Don’t get me wrong, I had the normal ups and downs of growing into adulthood, friendships gained and lost, heartache, discovery and self-realization.
As an adult I have learned many lessons personally and professionally. Some lessons were hard and some were fraught with adventure. Some knocked me to my knees and some lifted me higher. When I got married there were more lessons. When I turned 40, more lessons. Becoming a mother, still more and more lessons. Yet, none of this was my coming of age.
July 22, 2018 I am the same age as my mother was when she left this earth. For many years I pondered how I would feel upon reaching this milestone. I can honestly say that I feel like I have just begun my life! I have accomplished so much yet at this point in my life I feel like there is so much more. There is more opportunity to give to others. More creativity to live the life God has designed for me. More faith to accomplish the desires of my heart. So as I enter into another year, I want to share three lessons that I learned from my mother and have lived for myself.
Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes to the bone. There is so much ugliness in this world. It comes from the heart and it is permeating. People often described my mother a beautiful person. She was definitely radiant. But her beauty came from the inside out. She cared deeply for others. She took care of our elderly neighbors and opened our house to our family and friends. She volunteered as a Girl Scout leader and she taught school children. I have never met anyone who had a bad word to say about her. This is a testimony to her beauty. If I can be half as beautiful as she was I will have accomplished a lot.
If you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all. Ok, so I know that this originally came from Thumper’s mother in the movie Bambi, but it is something my mother would say often. As a teen and young adult I am sure I went through a bit of a mean girl period but this saying has stuck with me and it is something that I tell my daughter often. I have learned that our words have power. What we speak has the power to transform lives. I want my words to always speak life into a situation or a person.
Lastly, Enjoy Life! I learned this from the way that my mom lived her life. She loved, she laughed and she taught me to do the same. Yet, there were many plans and dreams she never realized. There are many special moments that she never witnessed. Life is short and for some it is shorter than we would want or expect. Learn to find joy in everyday. Learn to laugh despite the common ups and downs of life. Learn to smile and be open to the possibilities that life has to offer.
I have spent the last 35 years waiting for this rebirth! I am at a point in my life where I am fully accepting of who I am. I have earned the life I am creating for myself and my family. I am confident in who I have become. I recognize areas for growth and am willing to change the things that I deem as necessary to continue my pattern of growth. This is an important milestone for me because I feel like I have finally come of age.
When did you feel like you came of age?