A daughter’s inspiration

My mom doesn’t get nearly enough credit. I decided it was time I did something about it.

I’m a member of an honors society called Mortar Board, a prestigious organization that selects members based on scholarship, leadership, and service. On Nov. 18, we had our annual People Who Inspire banquet – an event where each member honors the person who inspires us most in this world.

Some people brought their best friend. Others brought grandparents or siblings. I brought my mom.

The speech I gave doesn’t even begin to cover how amazing she is, but it provides a small look into the inspiring life she leads.

Moms teach us a lot of things. They’re often the ones who show us how to tie our shoes. They remind us to look both ways before crossing the street and not to talk to strangers. My mom taught me all of the above and so much more.

She taught me that red wine is the best wine, and when all else fails, a glass of Pinot Noir won’t. She taught me that love is always better than hate – even if it means sacrificing your own pride to show kindness to someone who doesn’t deserve it. She taught me that Netflix marathons are OK, especially if “Game of Thrones” is involved.

My mom brings joy to everyone she meets – her laugh is contagious, her zest for life is inspiring, and her ability to bring light out of the darkness is incredible. Her life hasn’t been easy, but it’s not immediately apparent to the casual onlooker, who sees only the put-together, joyful exterior.

When my mom was only 14, her sister, my namesake, died of a heart condition. When she was 23, her dad died of lung cancer. And just one month ago, her husband – my father – died of pancreatic cancer less than one year after the diagnosis came.

Watching someone you love slowly and painfully die is inexplicable. Few people understand it. My mom never missed a beat, though. The diagnosis came, and she still lived, still loved. She accompanied my dad to countless treatments. She stayed up with him most nights when he couldn’t sleep through the searing pain in his abdomen. She ran to the store at a moment’s notice to buy whatever it was he was craving, just to get him to eat. She dressed him when he couldn’t dress himself anymore. Fed him when he couldn’t. Slept on the couch next to his hospital bed when he needed a hand to hold through his last nights on earth.

Yes, my mom has taught me a lot. But perhaps the most valuable lesson she’s taught me is what love looks like in its truest, must vulnerable and raw form. What “in sickness and in health” really looks like. What it really means to love through the bad. What it means to sacrifice, to suffer, even when it’s not your own burden.

My mom inspires me daily. In her, I see hope. Strength. Perseverance. Wisdom. Bravery.

My mom is my best friend. I call her multiple times a day. We laugh and cry together. And in those moments, she reminds me that it’s OK not to be OK. And above all else, she reminds me that we must not lose faith – not in each other, nor in our Lord.

One of my Dad’s favorite Bible verses throughout his battle with cancer was Romans 5:3-5. “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Thank you, Mom, for living out this hope and being my inspiration every day.

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