My dear friend and neighbor, Glenn, whose parents both died before he graduated from high school, remembers his own special mother with great admiration. She raised ten children, six of whom were boys. Glenn’s father worked exceptionally hard for very little, often leaving for work between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m. while his mother stayed at home to care for the children. Although my friend was raised in a large family, he certainly didn’t feel unnoticed. And since he was the youngest child, he was frequently alone with his mother as she went about her day.
He fondly recalls the small rituals they shared, such as playing cards at the kitchen table late into the evenings, counting down the New Year with a “toast” at midnight, and playing “The Numbers Game” where she would give him double-digit math problems to tally in his mind as quickly as he possibly could. (The answers to which she, herself, wasn’t completely sure of!) This hardworking mom was definitely busy, but not too busy to notice her son’s talent for mathematics.
Yet the mother’s mite that clearly stands out for my friend was having his mom watch him at the window as he walked to the bus stop each morning for school. Simply knowing she was there, watching him march down the street, made all the difference to him—both then and now. “She didn’t do it because she lacked trust in me, or because she didn’t think I was capable. She did it because she loved me,” Glenn tenderly explained.
Glenn’s wife, Dianne, adopted this sweet custom while raising their own six children. Dianne chose to add a small wave and a smile as her children looked back toward the window, but the message was still identical: “I love you and I care about you as you start your new day.” It’s interesting that the ordinary so often becomes the extraordinary when it’s motivated by love.
Maya Angelou once noted, “People will forget what you said . . . but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Today, my friend Glenn not only remembers much of what his mother did, and many of the little things she said, but most important—he remembers how her comforting custom of watching him at the window made him feel. And that was loved.