I learned from my mother how to love the living, and to have plenty of vases on hand in case one has to rush to the hospital with peonies cut from the garden.
I've watched as she listened with her heart, not just her ears, and empathized with others' pain and reveled in their glories.
My mother does not boast, brag or tear down her fellows. She assists those in need, no matter their levels.
I've seen many faces, emotions and tears. She responded, not acted, very sincerely. The mountains she climbed and the skies she saw meant little or nothing without us by her side.
I give her respect because she earned it. I give her love, as she gave it. She asked not for what she could have. She only provided the strength to keep us all going.
I had to make my own mistakes and experience my own pain. She could not shield me or keep me from straying. My mother knew — even when I thought I hid it — because a mother's eyes see more than what is revealed.
My mother had been in my worn-out shoes, the ones that pinched and dragged with each step. She'd seen the road traveled many a time, could whistle in the dark, reason and rhyme.
It's not what life gives us, she taught me, but what we can give life that makes us or breaks us or tears us apart.
A Band-Aid here and an emergency-room visit there, but always her hands in tender, loving care. She saw the roses — the colors, the petals — not the thorns or bugs. Brush off the dirt, remember the pain, smell the coffee and keep focused on the end. Complete it, meet it and give it a name. Count it, greet it, but try to stay sane.
She taught me it's great to be small because small is great in the grand scheme of it all. I learned to say "thank you," "please" and "God bless," to wait my turn and to clean up my messes. I learned to feel happiness, share joy and keep a stiff upper lip. I learned it takes time to heal hurt and sorrow, but it's what I do with today that makes better tomorrows.
We didn't choose our mothers, but they did choose us, and for that I am grateful and certainly blessed. Mothers are like angels on Earth, beautiful and powerful. And mostly sweet, like hot fudge and chocolate ice cream. They wipe away our tears, kiss our boo-boos and cheer for our team.
I can't tell you when my mother stopped loving because she hasn't. Nor has she stopped living, or ever will. I can't tell sometimes where I end and she begins. But I can tell you this, as one mother to another: I'll take mine over any other.
So if you have a mother who's young at heart, loving, caring and kind, then you know the mother ... the mother who's mine.
Joy reader Laurie J. Wolcott lives in Medford. Her mom is 77, has five children, 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.