The biggest golden nugget my mother never gave.
My mother was a very wise woman. She was like a gold miner with an endless supply of golden nuggets of wisdom. She always seemed to have just the right piece for whatever life threw at me. Her sage advice has often gotten me through the hardest times of my life So I pan for the largest piece, the one thing will say and define who she is and her life on earth. I look through my mother’s treasure chest and there are many things she told me that I could use. But none of them seem to fit.
When I was a teenager it seemed she had found a deep vein of gold and her claim, staked long ago, was finally paying out by the cart full. She would often sit me down to give me a life lesson nugget when I had something to learn. I could see that look come across her face and I dreaded those talks. I knew that the cart was full and about to run me down whether I wanted to hear it or not. Usually, I did not.
Shopping with my mother was always an adventure. She’d mine for the best buy and was forever making me try on the most horrible clothes that she insisted were “just darling”. I remember looking for just the right pair of pants.
“These are so cute” she’d say holding up pants the most hideous color of green.
“Mom, those are puke green. It’s not the 70’s”
She then held up the most horrible pattern I’d ever seen.
Eww, those are plaid. No way!”
After rummaging around a bit she’d found it. “Oh, these are JUST DARLING!”
“Mom, those are green AND plaid!” It was a nightmare. So we’d set off to a new store looking for another fleck if gold.
We walked through the mall passing busy shoppers on all sides, barely noticing each other in our rush for that perfect buy. Suddenly, I noticed my mother wasn’t next to me anymore. I frantically looked for her and found that she had stopped to speak to a woman she didn’t know. I rolled my eyes. She always did that. It was so embarrassing.
“I just wanted to tell you how nice you look. That is a beautiful dress.” The woman looked confused for a moment. She didn’t seem to know what to say. My mother just smiled. As we turned in the direction of the next store we heard her behind us.
“Thank you.” She said timidly, not knowing how to take a well deserved compliment. It was as if she were waiting for the other shoe to drop, completely bewildered by a compliment from out of the blue from someone she didn't know.
My mother nodded and squeezed my hand. And that was all. We never spoke of it. All the next day I waited for that look to cross her face. I was sure she was going to use that moment as one of her “life lessons”. Surely this was one of her golden nuggets. Any minute now….any time. But it never came.
And as I pondered this turn of events, I thought over the many times my mother had complimented someone she didn’t know. I finally realized that no lecture would be forthcoming. It wasn’t one of her nuggets. It wasn’t one of her golden rules or her mottos. It was just her. My mother was just kind to people because it made her happy. She did it subconsciously and with no forethought or motive other than the sheer pleasure of giving them the words that are so rarely heard but needed so badly.
The most important lessons I learned from my mother were not the things she said but the things she did. Words of encouragement and kindness are the largest and most valuable nuggets of wisdom I own. I cherish them above all. They have made me who I am.
I am now the miner panning for golden advice to give my own children and hoping they will one day cash it in. Pieces that will stay with them and define for them the meaning of who and what they are meant to be. And I realize there aren’t any big nuggets, any one piece that covers all the bases. There bits and flecks everywhere. Something for everyone and everybody. She wasn’t about doling out sappy and trite platitudes. She didn’t spend her nuggets of gold. She sprinkled flakes of them everywhere she went. My mom not only noticed good things in others but she took the time to actually TELL them, making everyone around her richer for her presence in their lives And I hope to make my own children as rich as she has made me without saying a word.
I recently had the blessing of becoming a grandmother. My mother was able to see her first great grandchild before she left this earth. She has now passed the golden grandmother torch on to me and I hope I can help my kids pan for gold the way she showed me.
I know many of you can think of something that she has said or done that has made you feel better about who you are. I want to encourage you to please leave a comment on her ever loved site. Those things are precious and a great reminder of how much she affected everyone in her life.It’s so wonderful to read and see the golden path she has left for us to follow