Counting My Blessings on Mother's Day

A daughter looks back and remembers the most important lesson her mother ever taught her

I read somewhere recently that the loudest voice a child will ever hear belongs
to his or her mother. 

I know when I was growing up, my mother had lots of advice and opinions – certain sayings she repeated so frequently that over the years I came to think of them as “Mom’s Maxims.”  In no particular order, they went something like this:

“Don’t be a snoop.” (Most often intoned around Christmas and birthdays.)             

Remember, you represent the Brinckerhoff family.” (‘Nuff said!)

“Only a fool tells all he knows.” (And no one wants to be a fool!)

“Know when to leave a party.”  (This one was intended more for grown-ups.) 

But there was one of Mom’s Maxims that stood apart from all the others, because it wasn’t just words. It was something I watched her put into action, day in and day out:

“When you’re feeling blue, count your blessings and do something nice for someone

The first time I heard my mother say this I remember hoping that it didn’t mean
that every time she did something nice for someone else (which was quite often)
it was because she was feeling blue!

To this day, when I think of my mother the first image that comes to mind is of
her standing in the kitchen wearing her favorite blue gingham apron, her red hair
dusty with flour, wrapping cellophane over a pretty paper plate of fresh-baked
cookies or chocolate cake, to take to a friend who was “down in the dumps”… or
dealing with an illness… or grieving the loss of a loved one.  The effect of my mother’s brief visits – she stayed only long enough to drop off her gift of comfort food and offer a hug – was to let her friends know, quite simply, that they were appreciated… cared for… loved.    

When the day came that failing vision caused my mother to no longer be able drive, she gave me the honor of assisting her with her deliveries.  And when the day came that she no longer had the strength to bake, she still found time to write encouraging notes, and leave cheerful phone messages for her many friends.   

My mother did these things right up until the day she died. 

Looking back, I believe that it was simply her nature to reach out to others with
kindness. It was instinctive. As it says in the Bible, her “left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing” when she baked those cookies, arranged them on a pretty plate, and delivered them to her friends.  It was, in the end, an extraordinarily beautiful and unselfconscious demonstration of putting love into action.  And it was, by far, the most important thing my mother ever taught me…

So on this Mother’s Day, when I find myself feeling a bit blue because Mom isn’t here, I’m going to take her advice and count my blessings – which starts, of course, with being grateful to God for giving me the gift of such a good mother!

And what about “doing something nice for someone else?”

I hope that sharing this story with you has helped to do just that.


Kathryn “Kitty” Slattery is a long-time contributing editor for Guideposts magazine and the author of several books for children and adults.  This story is adapted for New Canaan Patch from her new book, Heart Songs: A Family Treasury of True Stories of Hope and Inspiration (Guideposts Inspiring Voices). Visit the author at her website: www.KathrynSlattery.com, and on Facebook: Kathryn “Kitty” Slattery.

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