As I view my life and my mother's life through a different filtered lens since Mom's death, I now realize that perhaps what my friend saw in me was really a grand sense of adventure! Everything My mom did was an adventure -- whether it was going to the grocery store, the mall or library, eating dinner out or enjoying visits to Mexico, Hawaii or Europe!
My daughter shared an observation/memory about my mother "bouncing around town with an easy-going smile and more energy than seemed natural for a woman of her years." Up until the very end of her life, she had that bounce, and even at the end, that easy-going smile! I've intentionally focused on having an "easy-going" smile at all times recently. And I have noticed almost everyone smiles back - even stressed, self-involved drivers in parking lots, at stop lights and in people I pass by at the grocery store. And I find my own spirits lifted when I remember to smile.
You know, as I think about it, Mom instilled that sense of adventure in all of us - at least in subtle ways, if not in the 'live like you mean it' way she did. Years ago our family went on one of our annual family vacations to Nag's Head, NC. It rained and rained and rained. Picture this: 2 adults 5 children, the beach, rain, rain, rain. So what did Mom do? She taught us all to play a Mid-western card game, Euchre. (It's kind of like poker, bridge, spades . . . )
Since that year - and we were young! - often, when four or five of us were together, a Euchre game ensues. If one needed to leave for work or some other commitment, somebody would slide in and take their place. All of the 15 grandchildren learned to play Euchre as soon as they were old enough to sit still, or were tall enough to stand by the table and watch us all play. It was just a given in our family -- you learned to play Euchre -- and so did friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, grandchildren! Sometimes we had -- and still do when everyone is together -- two tables going, along with a Risk game - with an assortment of cousins, friends, either playing or sitting around providing color commentary.
When I was in Seattle after my mom's death, one of my nephews told a story that so perfectly captures Mom! (We were, of course, playing Euchre) He shared that he had just learned to play Euchre and Grandma was on the opposite team. He was hesitating, uncertain as to whether or not he should declare trump. He said, "Grandma told me "Don't be a chicken heart!"" (Not mean at all, but rather, in her very matter-of-fact way.) Then she proceeded to trump him - trounce his team (no doubt inclusive on another grandchild). Then she consoled him by telling him "It's okay! At least you went for it."
Mom was definitely not a chicken heart! And I thank God I inherited that from her. I've done a lot things people didn't think I could/should do. I've self-published a book, started businesses, took on creative projects and undertaken everything in my life with "all-in" determination, and -- I now realize -- approached every thing I've ever done with that sense of "even if things didn't turn out as I wanted/expected, at least I could look back and say I tried."
So, if you see me "bouncing around town with an easy-going smile," you'll know I'm channelling my Mom. Next time you hear or read about some new venture I've undertaken, you'll know I'm just doing what my mom modeled and encouraged all of her children and grandchildren: Don't be a chicken heart!
"Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold" (2 Corinthians 3:12).