I tend to think of my mom as Memorial Day approaches.
While my mom was dedicated when it came to placing flowers or wreaths on the graves of her loved ones, she used Memorial Day as a way to remind her five kids that moms appreciated flowers while they were living.
"Don't put flowers on my grave if you can't get them when I'm alive," she would say.
I was still a very young kid when I learned the real meaning of her advice which in my words is: Show your love and respect for me while I'm alive because if you don't, what good are flowers on my grave?
I think I did OK with that. I know I could have been better. I could be a mouthy teenager. I could be a somewhat condescending college student or an overoccupied adult.
But where I've tried to honor my mom is to follow her examples as best I could while she was living and since she died.
Mostly everyone was welcome at my mom's table. In fact, lots of people who had made some big mistakes or had traumatic events beyond their control in their lives seemed to gravitate to my mom. I lost track of how many times my mom would drop off a meal, a bag of groceries or clothes to someone who was working to get their lives back together.
When my siblings and I were cleaning out my parents house after my mom had died and my dad moved into an apartment, we found several stashes of cash tucked away by my mom. For example, one was in the main bathroom. One was in the master bedroom. She also kept a stash in a dining room hutch that we knew about.
"Ah yes," my younger sister and I said. This was how she'd be in conversation with someone and need to use the bathroom. She'd bring back a $20 or $10 or $100 and somehow manage to get that money in the purse or pocket or hand of another person. She'd maybe stick it in a book she suggested they read. Or in a pair of jeans she didn't need anymore or gave to the person because they just didn't fit right on her.
I like to think I'm a generous person but then, I think of my mom and I realize I can do better.
I plan to place flowers on my mom's grave this month. I think she knows I'm thanking her.