Nov. 1, 2013 01:00

Priceless lessons from a tour de force

So my sister and her children recently visited from New Orleans, and we spent some time hanging out. These visits remind me of how important my family is to me, and how much I miss my mother, who would have celebrated her birthday this month.

My sister and I are three years apart but we have a great relationship, which is currently hampered by my educational pursuits! (Don't worry I should finish in December and I hope to be back on the road traveling to New Orleans, talking and texting my sister at every juncture). She has three kids, ranging in age from 9- to 2-year-old. My sister's oldest child just turned 9 and is destined to be taller than her mom before she is 10. The caboose of the group is a little boy with curly hair, who makes me chuckle every time I think about him. The middle girl, who turns 5 this month, is a replica of her mother, attitude and all.  The three kids keep her very busy, and I am always amused by how they have picked up their mother's and father's personality traits.

My sister represents what life should be. She is married to a man who adores her. They have three beautiful children, have a nice home and spend quality time taking exotic trips around the world. I want to be her when I grow up! I am so proud of her and I know my mom would be also. Now, some days I am sure my sister wants to run away if she hears one of the three kids yell, "Mom," one more time, but I know in the end her life is richer because of them. Being a parent means being slightly insane like author, J.D. Salinger said. The love you have is intense, the desire to protect and care for a child is overwhelming, but in the end you learn they make mistakes, do silly things, but you still love them through it all, and they love you unconditionally.

I think my siblings (six of us, with one deceased) and I had the benefit of being reared by a great mother and a dedicated father. Maya Angelou once said, "To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power." That is so true of Ethel Mae Logan Domingue. She was a tour-de-force, a sensation when it came to mothering. I think if you asked any of my siblings who her favorite was, all of us would say our own name, and truly believe that was the case. That is the true sign of unconditional love and great mothering. There were times growing up that I did not understand why mother did certain things or wouldn't let me do other things.

She sat me down and told me one day that every child was different and needed something different to be able to grow into a good, productive person. I didn't understand that then, but I do now. It has been almost 20 years since my mother passed away, and I spend every day wishing I could talk to her and that she could see what her children have become because of her. "It takes someone really brave to be a mother, someone strong to raise a child and someone special to love someone more than herself," said Ritu Ghatourey. Happy Birthday Ethel Mae! You live on in my daughter, and in my sister's and brother's children.

All of us hold a piece of her and we are grateful that we had a chance to have her in our lives for the time she was here.  So, in my mother's memory, I applaud my sister for what she does every day. She is a great example to women and families everywhere, and I hope she knows that Mom would be proud too.

My beautiful mother

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