“ Like your body your mind also gets tired, so refresh it by wise sayings”…Hazrat Ali
“I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself.”…Marlene Dietrich
QUOTES AND MOM
Regular readers of these missives know that I frequently use a quote or quotes to introduce them. Often these are quotes that I found on the web recently, searched for, or stumbled across. More frequently, though, the quotes I use are words that have been familiar to me and used by me over a long period of time. I love quotes. They can succinctly capture an important idea in a few words that would be easy to remember. If they are easy to remember, you can use the ideas easily in your life. I also love them because you can sound relatively wise by using them (smile) But I am thinking about quotes today because thinking of them reminds me of the person who both initiated my love of quotes and provided me with some of the most important ones in my life-my mom, Ruth Edna Davis.
Now all moms have quotes that nearly all of them say. I am sure there is somewhere a great, “Moms’ Quote Book’ that all moms have to sign out before they are allowed to become a mom. In it are all the common quotes we remember from childhood. “Stop that look, or your face will permanently freeze like that!” “Clean your plate: there are people starving in China.” “One day you’ll be a parent and then you will know!” My mom read from that book like most moms do, and she used it well. But Ruth also had a lot of her own quotes, and it was from those I eventually realized I had learned some valuable life-long lessons. Mom’s quotes became templates form much of my life.
When I would complain about having to learn something, “boring and unmercenary” for school, mom would often say, “Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.” If I was being questioned about something I had done, and I shouted out, “He started it!” Mom would reply, “I didn’t ask what HE did:I asked what YOU did.” I was a mischievous kid, and I also had a great vocabulary; I could talk! But when I would go into a long explanation of why I had done something I shouldn’t have done, she would let me go on until I had finished. Then she would look me in the eye and quietly say, “It took you longer than two sentences to answer me; if it takes you longer than two sentences, you’re either lying or you’re hiding something!” WHEW! Busted! And speaking of lies, mom would sometimes say, “You know, a lie is the weakest thing there is. It can’t stand by itself-it always needs at least one other lie to support it.” What wisdom there was in those words.
If you are an ex-student of mine, you probably recognize those quotes. For when I had gotten older I could reflect back, realize the wisdom of some of the things my mother had been trying to teach me, and see the infinite wisdom there was in some of those simply said sayings. So when a student would ask me why we had to know about some long dead person or culture, I would often say, “I don’t know why you need to know or learn this; I don’t. But it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it” And when a student would go into a long, complex multi- paragraph explanation of why he or she was doing something they shouldn’t be doing, I would say, “It took you longer than two sentences to answer me. If it takes longer than two sentences then, you are either lying or you are hiding something.” These and many other quotes from mom were a staple of my teaching, and I freely gave her credit for them. Even today when I run into an ex-student he or she is liable to say, “As Ruth Edna Davis said, …” and then quote my mom to me. It is one of the ways her memory and legacy live on.
I do hope that as we celebrate this Mothers’ Day you have some fond memories of your mother and things she did and/or said that positively influenced you. If by some chance you don’t, I do hope you have someone who filed that role for you. I think we all need a little “ Mother Love “from wherever we can get it. It seems a necessary ingredient in life. Happy Mother’s Day.