But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.  George Eliot, Middlemarch

I miss my Mom.

I know most people who have lost a parent feel this way, but that does not make the sadness less. It hits in the oddest moments, triggered by small things. Mother’s Day, the anniversary of her death*, was difficult, as expected. But the trip to Spain was harder.

So many times I caught myself thinking “Wow, I have to tell Mom about this.” And then I had to remember, I couldn’t tell Mom about this. When in Madrid, we stayed in a flat directly across from a shop that sold ornate mantillas. “Oooh, I have to get one for Mom for Christmas!” I thought, only to catch myself a second later. I nearly burst into tears.

I wish I could talk to her about how hard this year has been. She would listen, and know what to say to be comforting. That’s who she was.

Mom was a nurse, both by profession and inclination. I have never met anyone with a better bedside manner. She knew how to make people feel better, and she always treated even the most difficult patients with charity and the best care she could give. She was eventually driven from the profession not by the stresses of dealing with patients but by the increasing mountain of paperwork that medical providers had to deal with.

At her funeral, everyone said the same thing, in almost exactly the same words. “Your mom was the nicest person I ever met.” “Your mom was the kindest person I know.” “Your mom loved everyone.”

Sometimes, when faced with difficult people, I try to think “what would Mom do?” And invariably, the answer would be that Mom would treat them calmly and gracefully. I have told people that I can work with almost everyone. I once had someone one notice me being generous in a situation where most people would not be, and they observed that to be gracious is a gift. That’s a gift I owe to my mother.**

My mother never scaled mountains. She never wrote books. (A slow reader, she never read many either, until late in her life, when she started reading novel after novel, even if it took her a long time to get through them.) She never held public office. She never did anything of note at all, except for those who were blessed enough to have her in their lives.

*yes, I know, this year the anniversary of her death would be the day after Mother’s Day, but I will always think of her as dying on Mother’s Day

*Perhaps unfortunately, as I get older, being nice to difficult people gets harder.

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