Defining A Life

This is an impossible task, an improbable goal, and an exciting challenge. Our “One Year to Live” class which meets monthly has given us seven Life Review Tasks. These came from Stanford University. Learn more here.

I have begun with Task One. Acknowledging people in your Life.

Where to begin? With Mother, of course.Barbara Cline Martin

The one who births you, gives you life, nurtures you, has to be top of the list of important people in my life. Our temperaments were different. She was vivacious, outgoing, party loving, and friendly. She had help with housework and spent many hours volunteering at numerous philanthropic organizations. She was the scout leader for me and my sister. Her generosity of time and spirit were loved by all.

She was the one who comforted me when a high school club didn’t choose me the first year, and who gave me the courage to quit its nonsence when they did choose me the second year.

It was Mother who said “You can be anything, do anything you set your heart on.” I didn’t always believe her. But she was the one who battled counselors for my right to become a doctor rather than a nurse. I didn’t become either, but her support was important.

Mother also worked with her hands. She sewed clothes, knitted sweaters, needlepointed pillows and created craft projects for Brownies and Girl Scouts. So much of what I know how to do began with her skills.

Mostly her support was silent. I longed for her approval. Seldom did she ask me about my life as an adult. But I know she reported proudly about me and my children.

Those moments of disapproval are more memorable. Like the time my clothes for a multi-generational family portrait were not “right.” I changed into my sister’s dress and even her shoes. Today I would say what I couldn’t say then: that doesn’t work for me.

She died at 72. Now that I am 71, that age seems so young. In the last twenty years there have been many moments I have wished to share with her. She is with me in so many ways. I wish we had been able to push away the barriers while she lived.

1 Comment

  1. It is a lovely and important thing to acknowledge the people in your life, even if they are no longer here. I hope you enjoy this particular life review task for the gratitude it will bring forth. Thank you for sharing the life review task list, too!

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