Although she was never an ardent follower of any formal religion,my mother's own faith endured throughout
her life:her faith in love,her faith in the miracle of nature,and her faith in the goodness of life.She honored this second chance at life at every opportunity that presented itself and most of all at the end of her life,through her work for UNICEF.
Sometimes a near-death experience can free us of the shackles that life slowly trainsus to wear.We come to realize what's worth the sweet and what isn't.Although she had no memory of her childrenhood near-death experience,the knowledge of it,coupled with the fertile ground of an already self-effacing nature,were the roots of the humility that graced her entire life.
I never heard her say,"I did this,"or"I've done that."Toward the end of her life,throughout the UNICEF years,I would hear her say regularly,as the world listened to her,"I can do very little."I never heard her say that she liked any of her performances.When people complimented her,she would always shy away and ultimately explain how those who surrounded her were the reason for her success.
Bessie Anderson Stanley wrote,"To laugh often and much,to win the respect of intelligent people and affection of children,to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends,to appreciate beauty,to find the best in others,to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child,a garden patch or a redeemed social condition,to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived,this is have succeeded ."By Ms. Stanley's standards,my mother's life was a success:She was graced with good choices.The first choice she made was her career.Then she chose her family.And when we,her children,were grown and had started our lives,she chose the less fortunate children of the world.She chose to give back.In that important choice lay the key to healing and understanding something that had affected her thtoughout her entire life:the sadness that had always been there.
Her choices healed the sadness of a little girl who didn't know her father for most of her life and yet who yearned and longed for that warm embrace,that reassurance that you are loved and that you matter.When I look back,that we mattered.This was the most valuable essence,the roots that live and grow forever inside you.She truly was a wonderful mother and friend.