By Denise Badger-Connell, Publisher

As Mother’s Day arrives, I find myself reflecting more than usual on life-lessons my mom taught me. It may have to do with needing her wisdom as my daughter transitions from a teenager to a young woman, wishing I’d known to ask her the questions I needed answers to before I no longer could. Maybe it’s wishing I’d taken more time with her, to study her face more so it would never fade, to take more pictures, more video, to write down more memories. Perhaps my increasingly forgetful mind is urging me to recapture the moments we shared now, today, before my mind completely erases all I hold most dear of her.
Or maybe I just miss her. Deeply.

I miss dancing with her, carefree and crazy in the kitchen between the boiling pot of spaghetti and the garlic-loaded salad. We danced to Neil Diamond and the Beach Boys, and laughed until we cried with the happiness of simply being, present, lost in the joy of joy.

I miss her hugs. When my mom hugged you, you felt it all the way to your deepest insides. She hugged your heart and your soul, and you felt loved and known and cherished all at once. I used to think that hugging my mom must be what it will feel like to get a hug from God.

I miss talking with her about everything, anything, whatever was of importance to her, to me, to the world around us. She was a stay-at-home mom with only two years of college, but all topics were fair game: philosophy, theology, science, the latest movie seen or book read. She studied Hebrew for fun and loved Tom Clancy books. In the throes of discussion, her eyes crinkled with mischief, or flashed bright with passion, always fully engaged in the moment. Together we listened long, shared deep, and wrestled with ideas, disagreeing at times certainly, but coming out the other side enlightened, affirmed and broadened of mind and spirit.

I miss her chocolate chip cookies, her hair swooped into a French twist, and even her bright pink sandals. I miss how she called me ‘darling’, as if it were my name. I miss the scent of her perfume when she entered a room, and how it lingered after she left, making me feel that somehow the moment was a little less colorful, and life a little less bright with her gone. I miss how she loved and lived — fully, quietly, deeply — with arms and heart wide open to what was, and is, and one day could be.

Like most life lessons, learning happens best when in the midst of a moment while they’re being lived, values passed on because of how they’re being lived, when shared with those we enjoy spending time with. Life lessons are caught more than taught. What is valued as most important and essential passes to us without our even realizing it… until we pause one day to look back and recognize it.

In looking back, I see the values my mom planted deep in the soil of my heart, values such as freedom, of living with spirit and joy, of unconditional acceptance, personal growth, communication, honesty, God, family, and love.

Whether she did it intentionally, or was simply being who she was in the moment, I don’t know. But in between the dancing and laughing, the hugging and talking, the cookie baking and nicknaming, and reading and hair swooping, it happened.

And it gives me hope.

If it happened with me, then maybe it can happen now with our daughter, and for you with your children. Seeds planted, values caught, lessons learned, lives lived meaningfully, intentionally, passing from generation to generation.

I miss my mom, deeply.

But every time I dance in the kitchen with my daughter, the missing melds into joy, seeing how my mom’s heart now beats on in two.

In loving memory of my mom, Gail Marilyn Mona Martin Schaffer, November 28, 1939 – September 20, 1994.

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