Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Happy Birthday, Madre!

My Dear Reader,

In honor of Madre's fiftieth birthday, we all got together and wrote a memory we have of her. This is mine.

My Madre is not your average woman. There is no way to deny it; the facts are obvious. First of all, she’s given birth to six children, a feat that is becoming rarer even among Latter-day Mormons. Second of all, she actually raised these six children, refusing to use day-cares or the television to do the job, and sacrificed her career on the stage in order to be a Madre one hundred and sixty-eight hours a week. And thirdly, she was able to guide each of her children to obey the commandments of God in a world that sees religiosity as a joke. The fact that her children follow the third of the Ten Commandments, which states that the Lord’s name is not to be taken in vain, especially in a world where the majority of Christians completely disregard the rule, is a testament to my Madre’s everyday obedience to her Creator as well as her determination to love for her children. After all, in this and many other instances, my Madre chose to teach us this principle by way of example.

In twenty-two years, I don’t think that I’ve ever seen my Madre swear once. I’ve seen her get frustrated and angry, and I’ve seen her experience pain, but I’ve never witnessed a single curse word escape from her lips. In fact, she was so consistent in this matter that it wasn’t until I was a teenager that I realized that adults swear all of the time. It wasn’t until I was a little bit older that I started to understand that in American culture, swearing is considered a very adult thing to do, and was so common that the absence of profanities in a movie was noticeable and even made the film unsuitable for adults. And through my experiences, I learned that professing to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints didn’t even stop a lot of people from participating in this “adult” pastime. It was at that point of my life that I began to comprehend how different my Madre was from the general population, and how she belonged to a very elite group of very peculiar people.

I know what you’re thinking, that not swearing might make for a boring life, but anyone who thinks that doesn’t know my Madre. Not only is she one of the most interesting people I have met in the course of my life, but she very strongly believes that the best way to conquer a bad habit is to replace that habit with a good one. And the way that my Madre chose to banish swearing from her life was anything but dull. We tend to be a very honest family, sometimes even brutally so, and when we encounter a situation that would inspire swearing from others, it is unnatural for us to not express our feelings. So instead of using the Lord’s name or a vile word to express her feelings, my Madre found very creative and appropriate alternatives. I remember once being in the car when my Madre had just been cut off and hearing her tell me that the other driver was a J-E-R-K, spelling it out to even keep from uttering that word out loud. I think that was just about as inappropriate as she ever got. In fact, the response that was uniquely hers was this: “Oh, that wasn’t very nice.” And outing people as less than polite was the usual way in which my Madre expressed frustration with others. She didn’t call into question the other person’s circumstances of birth, or refer to them as an animal, or call them a sinner. To my Madre, these were something of a crime, as all people were children of God, and God wasn’t One to offend, as evidenced by the fact that references to Deity were left out of these expressions entirely.

The more that I thought about it, I began to really appreciate it when my Madre said that someone wasn’t very nice, because wasn’t that really what the problem was? My Madre was frustrated not because of someone else’s circumstances of birth or anything else that profanities would indicate as the cause. My Madre was upset because the other person in question was impolite or inconsiderate. He or she might have put her in an uncomfortable of dangerous position, but the truth was that there wasn’t any evidence to make her assume that this wasn’t anything more than what it was, and she called it exactly that. And the more I thought about the way that the world would expect her to respond to this stimuli, I started to think that it wasn’t just the third commandment that she was keeping by her behavior. There was also a little bit of the ninth one involved as well, the one that expressly forbids lying. As I said, we are a very honest family, and through her example, our Madre taught us how to be honest even in our darkest moments.

I suppose that it is hard to say what kind of an influence my Madre behavior really had on the six of us, but I can tell you that we all feel the effects. My Madre’s choice of words was too unique to go unnoticed, and her example made us all seriously consider what we say very carefully. We even do it when she’s not around. And if my Madre could convert six imperfect people to obeying the third (and ninth) commandment just by example alone, my Madre must be an extraordinary woman. All six of us will testify to that.

Regards, best wishes, and I have the best Madre ever,

-Cecily Jane

1 comment:

Molly said...

My mom just put together all our favorite memories for my grandpa's birthday. I think it's a really good idea. I'm going to write a story for him.