Expecting? New parents? Two things sparked this post. Yesterday, I saw a 40 something year old man with a scraggly beard and a stretched out t-shirt that read: “World’s Greatest Day!” Today, I was at a local health store getting an acaí fruit bowl and there were three mom’s each with their daughters. Two of the three little girls decided to start playing a game in the “jamba juice” like place. They were about 4 years old with these cute and colorful dresses. They were happy, smiling and playing a game. The only way I can describe the game was that they were doing jumping jacks and dancing like crazy. When one of the girls said, “GO” the two girls froze, dropped their heads, stuck their tongues out, and shouted “Weee!” This dad and these mom’s had one thing in common, they were givers of the greatest gift.

What is the greatest gift we can give? Well let’s think about this a bit. Could it be a Tonka Truck or a Barbie? No, it’s got to be Legos!? Right!? Hmmm… So you know I wasn’t going there but what could it really be? Could it be an education? I’d say you are getting warmer.

I’m trying to imagine you are expecting or are a new parent. Now, imagine if you are in my shoes remembering a mother of 27 years who has passed. My perspective on the greatest gift you can give, comes from the greatest gift my mom has given me. It’s a gift, she gave me everyday… and still continues to give…

As a baby and into my adolescent years, she would give me time and attention. Recently, I’ve watched old VHS videos of all the time she spent with me when I was a baby learning to crawl, walk, and potty training. The time she spent being “home room” mom in school and the team soccer mom. She organized events and made sure not only I but all the kiddos had apples and Capri Sun drinks in between weekend soccer tournament games. Yet, time is not the gift in its entirety.

Growing up, she would tuck me into bed and give me a kiss every night at 9pm when she put me to bed. More than that, it was the hugs and back rubs. Up until days before she passed, I remember as if it was in this moment… She put her hands on my back as I was laying face down. She rubbed my back in small circles with such a soft touch. Oh how I miss that.

She would watch me a thousand times jump off the diving board and show off my new dives into the pool. She would take me for Mint Oreo Blizzards at Dairy Queen when I was “good.”

Sure, she did all of this before I was the age of 10 years old. However, after a car accident her abilities to give this gift changed. For 18 years, she lived everyday of her life in chronic pain. She would lay in bed on one side of her body in pain everyday with 8 herniated disks, pulmonary embolisms, colon cancer, Pseudomyxoma peritonei (rare 1 in a million abdomen care), constipation, and lots of health complications. Yet, everyday she continued to give me the greatest gift you could give. Now, she wasn’t driving, wasn’t cooking, wasn’t doing anything really than just laying in bed in pain. What in the world could she be giving from her bed? And how could this gift possibly be one that I still feel everyday. It is one you can and can’t see. It is one you can give and receive. The greatest gift is one that can transcend time and space!

Is there a lesson plan? The greatest gift a parent can give is teaching someone how to do something so that they can do it everyday. Some may say this is could be your legacy?

The greatest gift you can give is showing, doing, and teaching a child how to love. From her bedside in pain every day, she was teaching me how to love. Sitting in the pouring rain with me holding a glass of white wine while in pain when I was 11 was love. Picking me up from school was love. The greatest gift a mom, dad, or teacher can give a young person is daily lessons in how to love unconditionally.

Love is sacrifice. Love is easy. Love is hard. Love is laying flat in the back of a car for hours to be present to see your only son graduate college knowing very well that you would be amplyfing the pain. Thank you mom for giving me the greatest gift, for teaching me how to love like you.

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