Wednesday, October 20, 2010

21,000 diapers

That's my estimate of the number of diaper changes my mom endured for us 13 kids. That number doesn't include any of the 23 grandkids' diapers she changed during her seemingly endless role babysitting them. In addition, she had morning sickness for more than 10 years. Not all at one time of course, but nonetheless, it adds up to 10 years. She baked more than 10,000 loaves of bread and washed more than 10,000 loads of laundry ... in a wringer washing machine she refused to give up!

She recently passed away, succumbing to a brain tumor and other ailments she faced the last couple of years. She always kept her sense of humor, noting on the days when she was feeling particularly good that she "didn't want to change her luck." (This, a glimpse to her fun-lovin', gamblin' side. She always enjoyed playing the slot machines and once kept me out past 3 a.m. in Las Vegas.)

Although her words were sometimes mixed up, you only had to listen with your heart and not your head. When she talked about the "hocus pocus," she was referring to the weather forecast. (This was a very apt phrase substitution, especially in a volatile weather state such as Iowa where she lived for 80 years.) When she talked about all those "germs" walking around, she was referring to the cage of 50-some birds at the care facility. (She always thought birds were very germy creatures and raised and sold over 500 parakeets to pay for her wedding dress.) Most importantly, despite her mental changes, she had times of clarity, stressing that "I'm still in here," and "Thank you for being here."

Her actions and attitudes convey something we can all strive to do: Be happy for the good days. Listen with your heart. Keep your sense of humor. Always treat people with respect. Always be there for those you love.