The Little Things
By Jason Marshall
On my fridge door there’s a photo of my mom on her wedding day and I walk by it every day.
I usually take a passing glance. A quick look.
But looking and seeing are not the same.
Today I stood and stared at that picture and here’s what I saw:
A wide-eyed optimistic girl. Her smile full of joy. Happiness. Anticipation and promise.
She’d just stared into the eyes of the love of her life and said, “I do.”
Some quick math told me she was two months shy of her 19th birthday and now had a husband and a new last name. I’m sure that had yet to really sink in.
Many years after this photo was taken a doctor would tell her, “Mrs. Marshall, you’re going to have a baby!” She’d last heard those words a decade before. Yes, baby number four was on his way, 10 years after number three had arrived. I would be number four. Her ‘pleasant surprise.’
That black and white photo from 1957 had never been that vivid.
I’d looked at it so many times. But was truly seeing it for the first time.
What I saw made me smile.
This young woman in the wedding dress would one day arm me with traits and values to last a lifetime.
She would teach me that family always needed to come first. Before all else. And to make your home a happy place for your kids, because they’ll always return to their happy place.
She’d also instill in me a sense of faith and belief, along with the freedom to chart my own spiritual journey through this world. She planted the seed from which my moral compass would sprout.
In this photo I saw a mother who taught me the importance of hard work. Not by telling, but by showing. And in that same vein, I learned the value of a dollar and to always pay my bills before I paid myself.
My mom also showed me that life needs to have a balance. Laugh a lot. Especially at yourself. Your time on earth is too short not to have fun. Laughter and joy are meant to be shared with the universe.
It’s hard to believe that I walked by this photo so many times and never saw that my love of music, entertaining and cooking all came from this woman. And that homemade is always better than store bought.
I love to read and learn and that’s because she took the time to teach me how important those things are in this world. And you can’t learn without asking questions. And listening. Talking is easy. Listening is harder. Actually, hearing what someone is saying is even more difficult.
I won’t be able to look at this picture on my fridge again without seeing that my love of the Christmas season came from the heart of that woman. As did the tremendous pleasure of giving, rather than receiving.
She showed me the importance of compassion and respect for others. And never stand idly by when someone truly needs your help. But she also showed me that there’s a line you must draw in the sand of this world. One that people can walk up to, but should never cross. At some point you need to caution them that if they do cross it, they do so at their own risk. Never be a pushover.
It’s been 15 years since I bought a Mother’s Day card. Gabrielle Marshall died in January of 2009. But even though she isn’t here with my physically anymore, she has always been with me in spirit. Her energy is ever present. As is the influence she had on me. I’ll now see that every time I look at that picture on my fridge.
Happy heavenly Mother’s Day, mom. And to all the moms who are no longer with us.
If you still can, give your mom a hug today. Don’t wait until Mother’s Day. Every day should be a day to celebrate your mom. At the very least, pick up the phone and give her a call to tell her you miss her. And love her. It may seem like a little thing to you, but remember: the little things make all the difference.
Jason Marshall has been a writer and journalist for more than 30 years and is an on-air host and station manager at Valley Heritage Radio just outside of Renfrew, Ontario. And he’s truly a big kid at heart. You can email him anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org