Wednesday, September 21, 2016

259. Mama Hansen

It’s a big day for my mom, Kathy, AKA Mama Hansen today. It’s her birthday. I’ll do her the favor of
not divulging her age. My mom has taught me a lot, probably more than I give her credit for. She is the kindest person I know, the most compassionate, and one of the most thoughtful. She is one of those people who sends cards, remembers birthdays, and will willingly spend an hour on the phone catching up with one of her friends or siblings.

The best lesson my mom taught me was that you should always have an inclusive personality. Invite people into whatever you’re doing. That really affected me when i was in Boy Scouts. We had one particular scout who was autistic and not liked very much by the troop overall. I was in a leadership position at the time. My mom told me to keep an eye out for him and to try and include him in troop activities. I don’t know if I was his best friend, but I’d like to think I made his scouting experience just a little bit more enjoyable.

Scouts often forget that “kind” is the sixth point in the scout law. It appears ahead of brave in the scout law. That’s the other thing I’ve taken away from my mom: be kind to people, especially those who work cleaning up after you. She worked in schools for a number of years. She knew janitors by names and had a connection with them. I always admired that about her. It always grates me when I’m somewhere for a meeting or an event and a door is locked. The organizer has to flag down a janitor to unlock the door, but has to rely on a, “Hey, you!” I always find that a little uncomfortable. Couldn’t you have at least gotten to know their name? (Note: I could be better at doing this.) She remembers the names of students she had, a good portion of which are foreign names that most people would butcher.

My mom has gone through many more challenges than I give her credit for. She had Bright’s disease as a child. (Google it.) She, the oldest of five, left for the convent as a young teenager only to exit a little over a decade later. My dad and her left the U.S. to go teach in Central America during a time of tremendous upheaval. My mom had three miscarriages before having me. (Miracle baby!) And adopting my brother involved its own set of challenging circumstances. She taught ESL and GED students for a number of years. A lot of them didn’t speak english, or came from troubled backgrounds. Taking care of my brother’s medical needs has been difficult, and I’m sure sending me off to boarding school was as well. She’s gone through a lot, and yet she continues to radiate kindness day after day.

So happy birthday, mom. And in case I don’t say it enough, thank you.

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