Dorothy Ann Sobieski McInnis’ gravestone reads, “Tender mother and faithful friend.” Yep, that was my mom. She passed away a quarter century ago but not a day goes by that I don’t tap into her wisdom and all that earned her epitaph. I also try to emulate her cornerstone: unconditional love. All else was built around it.
There was never a single day in my life that I didn’t feel loved, which frankly made the real world a bit shocking to me to learn that not everyone loves me for who I am. The shock and disappointments are but a small price to pay for the blessing to have been loved unconditionally, which I am quite sure was not always an easy assignment for mom. There were times when I was a handful.
Unconditional. Without condition. No strings or bait-and-switch, no caveats or disclaimers came with mom’s love. I grew up with permission to be me, knowing that my mom’s and dad’s love for me would not waver based on how I met or did not meet their expectations or ideals. The times of tough love were not exceptions to the reality of unconditional love.
For all the roses and cards, breakfasts in bed and special dinners, family get-togethers and special messages, perhaps the greatest thing we can give and get in honor of mothers and Mother’s Day is unconditional love for all, and the courage to be tender and faithful in our relationships.
More than 40 years ago, I drew a tombstone with an epitaph that I hoped to earn in life. It read, “People knew he loved them.” I hope mom smiles when I try to discipline my thoughts and actions by remembering that drawing and says “That’s my son. I’m proud of him and love him.”
Happy Mother’s Day, all, to the moms, to those who have moms, to those who had moms, to those who serve as moms to others…to everyone. We are all shaped by mothers and their greatest influence: love.