My mom weaves her concern about the weather into nearly every conversation these days. She doesn’t like, no, she almost fears the cold and she’s afraid we’re all going to get caught in a blizzard.
Today is mom’s birthday. She’s eighty-three. Mom and dad live in Cleveland and we’re in Cincinnati. I called mom yesterday to wish her a happy birthday. I figured, today,their line would be busy most of the day with my five siblings and other relatives calling-in their birthday wishes from around the country. And all that talking on the phone, while welcomed, would tire mom out. So I got a jump on the greetings and called one day early.
Mom has had two brain surgeries in as many years. She has good days and less than great days. On the call yesterday, she clearly knew who I was (good day!) and I think she knew today would be her birthday but I’m pretty sure she didn’t realize Christmas was only 2 days away, or even what Christmas is. When I said, “Happy birthday, mom. Tomorrow is your birthday,” she said, “Oh well, it’s just another day. Aside from the pain in my shoulder, I don’t feel any older.” On every birthday I can remember, mom has always said, “Funny, I don’t feel any older.”
When I spoke with mom last April, she said, “I’m sure not looking forward to the cold weather.” I said, “I’ve got good news for you mom. It’s only April so it will get warmer soon. You won’t see cold weather for another six months or so.” Yesterday, when she asked what I was doing, I told her I was getting ready to do some customer service training in January. She said, “Oh now, if the weather is bad, don’t feel you have to do that. Just be safe.”
“I’ll be safe, mom, don’t worry.”
I’ve mentioned mom before in this blog and in my public speaking events, not only because I love her so much and admire her but also because I know much of what I learned early on in my life about service and care, I learned from my mom. Mom was all about creating a great experience. She still is.
ser·vice [ súrvəss ] 1.work done for somebody else: work done by somebody for somebody else as a job, duty, punishment, or favor 2.helpful action: an action done to help somebody or as a favor to somebody 3.work for customers: work done for the customers of a store, restaurant, hotel, or similar establishment, often with regard to whether it pleases them or not
care [ ker ] 1.be concerned: to be interested in or concerned about something 2.feel affection and concern: to feel affection or love and concern for somebody 3.tend somebody or something: to tend or supervise somebody or something
Mom extends her helpful actions, her affection and concern, as a joyful duty to anyone within an arm’s reach or within the reach of her voice – even complete strangers and never expecting anything in return. She notices anyone struggling. She acknowledges everyone she sees. Mom puts herself in the other person’s shoes as a matter of habit. She actually cares and enjoys being of some positive service, if she can be.
When I help others solve a problem, become more proactive, improve a process or create a great experience, what I’m really doing is helping mom spread her personal mission. Except for mom, it’s not really even a mission. For mom, it’s just a way of being. The right way of being. It’s the only way of being she knows.
So today, I say thanks mom, for showing me the spirit of service and of care and the value they have creating a positive experience in the world.
And dad, thank you for taking such good care of my mom. I love you both.