I don’t think we were particularly spoiled, though we had a pretty good life. Mom was not afraid to say no to us, and not afraid to tell us she could not afford this or that wish of our hearts. Yet we always had what we needed, and most of what we wanted, as well.
[Prodded by my sister, I'm retelling the story correctly below:]
Just after my folks were married, Mom wanted to do some shopping, but had no money (only checks from wedding presents), but had Dad's shoe box of saved coins. She went to the bank, thinking they would roll them for her (which they did not -- they gave her paper rolls to do it herself). She then stopped at the store on the way home (before rolling the coins, with the box still in hand) planning to use some of the bigger coins to pay for the groceries. As she approached the counter the box broke, spilling coins everywhere. She reports: "Someone gave me a bag and helped me pick up the loot, but I was embarrassed and very happy to return to Coulter Street! What a way to begin married life!"
I can only imagine my mother’s embarrassment – first that she was trying to pay with a bag of coins, second that she was told she could not use them (after waiting in line with her groceries), and finally having to scramble to pick up the coins from the floor.
And yet, that was who Mom was – she did what needed to be done, whatever it was.
Despite Mom’s being spoiled as a child her life was not always easy. She had a complicated health condition about which the doctors knew very little in her youth. She had an ill-fated surgery to “correct” the problem as a young woman, and the complications of that surgery made the problem much worse for the rest of her life. She was prone to infection which would last for days, and then watched as three of her four children inherited the same condition from her.
And yet, there was something about Mom that kept her moving forward. She did not allow her medical condition to stop her from serving her family and serving others. She supported PTAs and polling places, classrooms, Cub Scouts and Brownies, and later, after joining the church, taught children and adults and eventually served twice as a Relief Society president and more than once in the stake Relief Society.
Her life was a living lesson to her children that one does not stop; one does not wallow in self-pity. One does what one needs to do.
When she was diagnosed with cancer in her 70’s, her observation was characteristically upbeat: she said she had already lived longer than she ever expected to, and that she had enjoyed her wonderful husband and children and grandchildren. When the doctor who diagnosed her wondered why the pain of the tumor on her lung had not brought her to him sooner, she said, Do you expect me to come to you every time something hurts?
I miss my mom some days. I’m grateful for the lessons she taught me. Today is her birthday.