Fourteen years ago, I married into an amazing family that might be considered an old-fashioned family maintaining values that are being passed down through generations. Our family is large with siblings galore, grandchildren, aunts, uncles and even a few great-grandchildren. This family was begun by the most loving husband and wife who taught each child to respect their elders, love their family, and to care for others. Sadly, mom and dad are both gone now, but the lessons of life they demonstrated remain as strong as ever, passed now to the next generation.
I was told that Mom was “mom” to every child in the neighborhood, she taught her children to open their hearts to people that needed someone to care about them. When she cooked a meal, she made extra because there might be a child who was hungry, and they knew they would be welcome in her house. She loved without limits… even with her large family she could always find time to care for her children’s friends and mentor them as well as her own.
Once on a trip home I saw first-hand how she had mentored her children to be the kind, caring adults that she wanted them to be. It had been just a few months since she passed. She was no longer there but yet, she was everywhere, her spirit filled the house. I secretly imagined she was whispering in each person’s ear “let’s get breakfast going… we need to sweep and dust… someone needs to go check on elderly Mr. Black.” It was as if everyone heard her voice and went about doing the things that needed to be done. As children they had seen her do these things over and over and now acted without thinking, they simply knew what was to be done for the day to begin. Food was delivered to family members that were homebound, sisters went to the home of a recently widowed brother to clean and help with his laundry. Another sister went to the nursing home to visit the widow of their older brother. No one was ever left alone when there was a need.
Over the years, I have seen this scenario play out over and over… now her children are teaching their children and grandchildren the ways of the family. When one is down, everyone rallies. As any good mentor, she coached her children, gave them direction, supported them, and trained them to carry on what her mother before her had most likely done for her.
Traditionally we hear the word mentor and we often think of a boss or co-worker that takes us under their wing to train us, but mentors can be anyone. We look to our mentors for support, guidance, and direction. A good mentor can help pave the path to success and as this special mom did, can help to pave the path for a meaningful life.