Friday, May 18, 2007

Roots and Wings

There’s a cute little saying that perhaps you’ve heard: “It’s nice to be important… but it’s more important to be nice.”

I grew up with that saying. I first heard it from my mom. I think we even had it on a placard hanging somewhere in the house. And I heard it repeated often while I was growing up.

It stuck with me.

Over the years, any time I started heading down the path of feelin’ a little more important about myself than I actually was, those words would always rescue me. (It worked out well, because there really wasn’t anything I had done which could rightfully be classified as “important”, anyway.)

And, over the years, being nice to others has become something I believe in. I’m sure I occasionally slip up, but I do genuinely try to always consider the feelings of others and simply “be nice” to them. It’s probably one of my few good habits.

There’s a reason I’m telling you about my try-to-be-nice habit this week: I happen to know exactly how I acquired it as I was growing up.

I acquired the habit because my mom did more than TELL my siblings and me that cute little saying. She also SHOWED us that it was more important to be nice. She set an example of being nice to others that made an indelible impression on us.

In the 53 years I’ve been on this earth, I’ve never heard my mom say an unkind word about another soul. Nor have I seen her act in an uncaring manner toward anyone.
There is a seemingly endless list of names of those who she has uplifted, befriended, commended, promoted, supported, boosted, complimented, elevated, or otherwise helped. But never once have I heard a disparaging remark about anyone from her.

For my entire life, I’ve only seen her be nice.

It created a footprint which cannot be erased from my mind.

She had another favorite saying that I heard her repeat from time to time. She said “Children learn what they live.”

And that, I believe, is why she has spent a lifetime being nice. She knew that the examples she set for her children are what would eventually determine both our roots and our wings. For those roots and wings, I am thankful.
As Americans pause this weekend to celebrate the most worthy of holidays -- Mothers Day -- we’ll each have our own special memories of our own moms.

I hope your Mothers Day is as special to you as mine is to me.

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