By Sharon Challenger
Some days it can seem as if there is very little good news to be found. Television, radio, and the internet seem to focus on all the “wrongs” in the world. At times this constant dribble of negative news can wear a person out.
When I was a child and in a complaining mood, my mother would say “Count your blessings.” She was a woman of few words and must have grown weary of my constant questioning and chatter. When I would begin a series of “what if…?” questions, she would break into song with “Que sera sera, whatever will be will be…” and it would really annoy me. I wanted answers and she didn’t have them.
Both my mother and father had expressions that made me think and made me focus on being less self-absorbed. My father would say “How would you feel if someone did that to you?” or “put yourself in their shoes.” Those simple words would make me pause, and search for answers within myself.
Counting blessings and being thankful for what you had played a big role in my upbringing.
In a time when most fathers were the breadwinners, it was my mother who took on that role. My father was disabled with cancer when I was only two years old, so he was at home with me.
Both of my parents did not finish their education. My mother went only as far as 8th grade. The reason for this was that her family moved from Quebec to Maine and my mother could not speak English. She was too ashamed to attend school, so she went to work instead. My father completed only 7th grade and worked as a barber when he was able. Both taught themselves English, but spoke mostly French at home. I refused to learn and when they would speak French to me I’d say, “this is America, speak English.” I was embarrassed that they had accents and were different from my friends’ parents.
We lived in a tiny home, without any luxuries, and no car, but we were comfortable.
My mother was an incredible woman. She worked, mowed lawns, fixed plumbing, cooked, baked, and did all the household chores. All without complaining. She never owned a clothes dryer or a dishwasher, but she was thankful for everything she did have. No one could touch her washing machine because it was an object of worship. She saw it as a “blessing.”
Today, I can still hear my mother’s words, especially when I am grumbling about small matters. She makes me pause and I sometimes speak her words as if she were right by my side. “Count your blessings.” I then begin to quietly list them one by one until a feeling of humility comes over me. And “yes” I am thankful for that too.
Image from the Public Domain