Appreciating my first teacher
My mother will be 92 in a month. She is active in her church. She loves a party more than anyone I know, and will literally rise from her sickbed so that she doesn’t miss one. She loves her family and we have many, many photos to prove it. The one I have chosen comes from a special experience.
At 90 my mom decided she wanted to go to Africa. She didn’t really know why. She wanted to see the animals. I promised I would make this happen. Between my regular travel agent in Michigan (www. alwtravel.com) and a web based tour company (really one especially talented man) we crafted a trip of two weeks in South Africa, the first week in the north seeing the animals, and the second in Cape Town, the wine country, and the south coast. What a trip! Twice during the summer before our September departure date, Mom fell. The day before we were to leave, her neighbor came to me and said, “she’ll never make it.” She didn’t know mom’s determination.
We had a spectacular time together! I will remember this trip as a highlight of my life and of my relationship with my mom. And here is what this appreciative teacher taught me:
1. If you really want to do something, make it happen. Maybe you can’t make it happen by yourself. Enlist others to help you make your dream come true, or your goal achievable.
2. Believe in yourself. Physical disability, fear, others’ lack of belief in you should not stop you. Keep moving toward what you really want.
3. Rest. None of us can push all the time. It makes us crabby among other things–and a martyr. So rest. I picture my mom snoozing in the back of big, bouncy jeeps as we looked for leopards and elephants (she opened her eyes when we got there).
4. Love, and show it your way. Every day my mom would say something like, “I can’t imagine another daughter who would do this for me!” She only has one, but I appreciated knowing that she recognized the work and love that I had put into the trip.
5. Use your resources for the things that are important to you. My mom paid for this trip. We flew first class as she didn’t think she could sit squished in an economy seat for 16 hours. She gave me a budget. I showed her the animals. I arranged for a driver (through my excellent tour guide) in both the north and south. Both drivers enchanted mom and wheeled her around where she couldn’t walk. She was both brave (tackled stairs where wheelchairs couldn’t go) and smart (didn’t even try to walk to the Cape of Good Hope as I did).
Using these principles helps me understand my students better too. I have more energy for those who are struggling, but willing, than those who are entitled and unwilling to stretch. My mom has been my own best teacher.