This is an Arabic word that my mother would say when she saw something that disgusted her. I most clearly remember her saying it when she saw pictures of Yoda from Star Wars. She must have thought he was the nastiest, ugliest little thing she had ever seen.
My mother was a happy person. Everyone remembers her with a smile on her face, her laugh, her joyful spirit. She was a peacemaker. She disliked conflict (though she wasn’t afraid to tackle it). As a hairdresser, she loved to make people happy on the inside by making them pretty on the outside.
But Mom experienced a lot of pain in her life. She lost her dad when she was a teenager. She was forbidden to marry my father (after waiting six years, she arranged a secret engagement and married him anyway). One of her brothers died. When I was around 2 years old, there was a horrific car accident – she lost her only sister, her sister-in-law became paralyzed, and my cousin (5 or 6 at the time) needed surgery on her skull. Coming to the States and adjusting to life here was difficult as well. She started taking classes to earn her high school degree via correspondence school – all while working full time and raising two children. With just a few credits left to graduate, my grandmother broke her leg and Mom left her studies to care for her. She never ended up getting her diploma.
My mom never showed her pain. I don’t know if she processed it and let it go, or if she just internalized it. But she was always a genuinely happy person in my eyes. She would say, “Don’t expect anything from anyone, or you will be disappointed.” She wanted us to make our own happiness, not seek it from others. And she wanted us to make others happy.
I was thinking about this yesterday morning. On the drive to school, I was talking with the boys about what we could do that day to make God happy with us. Silas said, “Don’t sin.” James said, “Obey Mommy and Daddy.” We talked about being kind to others, and how little effort it takes to make someone happy, with just a word or a smile. A note of encouragement. A genuine compliment.
My mom knew that making our own happiness could only happen by making others happy, because ultimately that would make the Lord happy. It was a nice legacy to leave to me and my sister. One that we can pass on to our kids.
And thanks to Silas’s current Star Wars obsession, I don’t have any “wuh-jaaah” moments when I see Yoda. The little bugger has grown on me.
OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.