Saturday, May 10, 2014

Lessons from Eugeny

My mother, Eugeny, was only 49 when she went to be with the Lord. I was 22 when she died, and it was (and still is) the most devastating thing. But even though I still long for her (18 years later), I feel so blessed to have had her for the years that I did. Here are some lessons she taught me in that short time...

Easy, breezy beautiful. She always lived life to the fullest.
Compassion – My mother was a hairdresser, and her customers were more than just clients – they were her friends. They sat in her chair while she styled their hair and shared all about their lives, their joys, and their problems. A lady once told my mom that her dog had died and my mom suggested she should get another one. The lady was very offended, and my mother realized how much she had unintentionally hurt her. A day or two later my mother bought a doggy sympathy card and gift and took it to this lady’s house. She may not have cared about the dog, but she cared about her friend.

Sacrifice – My mother grew up in Aleppo, Syria and only completed school until the 8th grade. After coming to the States, while working full-time and raising me and my sister, she registered for correspondence school to get her GED. She was only a few credits shy of graduating and getting a high school diploma when my grandmother, who lived upstairs from us, fell and broke her leg. She put her studies aside to care for her (it took a total of a year and a half for Grandma’s leg to heal). She never went back for the diploma.
My mom between her mom (left) and her mother-in-law (right)
Reconciliation – My mother was a peacemaker. She hated when people didn’t get along. She went out of her way to bring people together and resolve conflict. It really upset her to see people – especially family members – not talking to each other or giving each other the cold shoulder.

Motivation – My mother had never learned how to swim. One day we found out that she had secretly been taking swim lessons at the local Boys & Girls Club. When she put her mind to something, she did it.

Selflessness – Hairdressers typically have Mondays off since they work on Saturdays. Mondays were my mom’s day to clean the house, prepare a few meals for the week, and run errands. But Mondays were also the days she would go to my grandfather’s house to trim his hair and shave his face because he couldn’t do it himself. She did this for years. She would also go to the hospital to wash and cut hair of friends who were ill or recovering from surgery.
On my birth day, Kuwait 1973. I love how she's looking at me.
Resolve – I can’t count the number of times I hid my face in shame at the store or mall when my mother confronted the salesperson or manager with some false advertising or mistake on the receipt. She wasn’t afraid to argue her case and fight for her rights.

Imperfection – I loved my mother, but I was very careful not to sanctify her after she died. She wasn’t perfect – she never tried to be. She was afraid of driving on the highway, especially when big 18-wheelers passed us. She lost her temper sometimes. She would be late picking us up from school because she was working. It didn’t make her any less of a woman or mother. I try to remember her as a complete person.

Joy – My mother has been gone for almost 18 years. I’ve forgotten the sound of her voice. But I still remember her laugh. She suffered much in her life and in her death, but her laugh was constant. And it often drowned out her tears. She may have only lived 49 years, but she found joy in every pain. She owned it.
Yeah, she was a stunner. In NYC, with me (left), my cousin Saro, and my sister.
Devotion – I remember exactly one time that I heard my parents fight in the 22 years that I witnessed their marriage. ONE. I’m certain they had their disagreements, but they didn’t play them out in front of me and my sister. They did, however, show plenty of adoration and affection for each other. This might be the single most important gift she ever gave me.

OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman, Silva. What a gift you had in her. And she in you. You look so much like her in that last picture. Lovely ladies! Thank you for sharing her with us.