by Michael Dymmoch
My mother passed away last winter; this week she would have celebrated her 87th birthday. Though my grandmother taught me to read, Mother always kept books in the house. And she never censored my reading. Mom got me a library card and, until I could drive myself, she drove me to the library to satisfy my reading jones. I always got books for Christmas. Mom gave everybody books.
She taught me to recycle before recycling had a name. She let me take days off school to go to the annual Winnetka Rummage sale, which was almost as good as Christmas. Before we had an energy crisis she taught me to conserve energy: Go back and turn off that light! Close the door—are you trying to heat the outdoors?
Mom never said No to a pet in a way that let me know she meant it. If I was a good mother, it’s because my mother gave me a great example and a chance to practice parenting on a variety of creatures with different needs and ways of communicating. She taught empathy by example. She embraced everyone we brought home, notwithstanding reservations she may have had about them. In cases where visitors acted up, Mom just said, Go home. Come back when you can behave.
She taught me to trust in my ability to manage whatever I have to, and to expect the universe to provide—Live horse and you’ll get grass.
Mom insisted that I get a college education. It was never You should go to college, always You’re going to college. But she never suggested I shouldn’t follow my heart in what I studied. When I graduated, she was a whole lot prouder than I, as she was when my first book came out.
Most importantly, Mom gave me a great moral compass—two vital precepts to live by: How would you feel if someone did that to you? and—in case I felt like doing murder—Two wrongs don’t make a right! If I have the courage to say, That’s just wrong! I got it from her.
Mom’s legacy will continue down the generations. She raised her children to follow her example, Now we’re doing our best to model it for our kids.