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Kindness First

I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.

William Penn

Anyone who knows me, even casually, understands how much I loved my mama. She was such a joy in my life, and it goes without saying that I miss her every day. Still, her legacy continues—in my heart and in the hearts of those who were influenced by her life. One thing that always made me so incredibly proud of her was how she conducted her life. She built a strong and unwavering foundation of love—extended to everyone regardless of faith, politics, lifestyle preference, or ethnicity. Clearly, if you were kind, then you had a seat at my mama’s table. Plain and simple.  

Today, when kindness seems to be a waning commodity, I find that I revert frequently to the tried and tested life examples of my mother.   

I remember on several occasions, going to visit her and Dad on a Saturday morning only to be warmly introduced to door-to-door missionaries sitting in the living room. Happily sipping coffee and enjoying my mama’s freshly baked cinnamon rolls, they were not there to preach or convince her that she needed to convert to their beliefs. No, that had been established long before that they need not waste their time by attempting to sway her from her solid faith. They were there because they were kind, and that was always enough for my mama to consider them friends. In the beginning, she had gently reminded them when they were getting ready to depart, “Here, honey, you can take your magazine publication with you.” This weekly visit based on mutual love and respect continued through the years and was simply a small gathering of precious ladies sharing life and relationship. My mama had such an array of friends—for at least one very delightful reason. She was never judgmental, and everyone was welcome. 

From my memory bank, I easily withdraw a beautiful picture of my mama with her arm around an openly gay family member who had recently lost his dear partner. She shed tears of compassion, connecting effortlessly with his pain and heartbreak. Another time, my heart was overwhelmed when she purchased groceries and clothing for a struggling immigrant family that lived nearby—and not just once. Despite her spiritual and political ideology, she never allowed beliefs to crowd out her love and respect for others. Mama was quick to say, “I have but one job, and that is to love without condition.” She didn’t need a bracelet to remind her what Jesus would do—she knew it by heart. 

Stories of my mama’s life, legacy, and Godly example are endless and could easily fill a book or two. Thank you, Mama. You took a part of my heart when you went away, but you left me so much more. My life has your fingerprints all over it. Until we meet again. 

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