Grit and Grace: A Mother’s Day Reflection

Elizabeth Mary McGuire Luscher (1927-1984)

Elizabeth Mary McGuire Luscher (1927-1984)

I don’t typically write much about holidays, but as we approach Mother’s Day this year, I am beginning to take notice of some qualities that my mother emulated for me that I still benefit from today. These are qualities that I have written about before here on Market Leadership Journal, and elsewhere.

The first that comes to mind is toughness, or grit. Now, I’m willing to acknowledge that those who know me personally may not think of me as being tough, and they may be right. But in many respects, my mom was tough–she had grit. And with that she also knew the limits of her influence and of what she could directly control when it came to protecting me and raising me.

Case in point: as a pre-teen kid, I often had to put up with bullies. While I have no doubt that the thought of me having to do so could be upsetting to say the least, she had no hesitation in telling me the truth about what I would have to do. “If they swing at you,” I remember her saying, “you swing right back! You might get a little beat up, but sticking up for yourself will earn you respect, and make them think twice the next time.”

How many mothers do that? Indeed, the first impulse is to be protective. But my mom knew that she couldn’t be there to protect me or to fight my battles for me. Ironically, I do not think she wished to see her only son become a mamma’s boy.

A second quality that comes to mind is grace. You see, my mom died in 1984, after enduring five years of intense, chronic, and often debilitating pain. And while she could not always hide the state she was in (and believe me, she sometimes tried because she did not wish to call attention to it), you never heard her complain. And she continued to carry on her duties as a mom to me and my three sisters as best she could.

To accept pain and adversity willingly and endure it is a quality of grit. To do so quietly, without complaint, and surrendering one’s will is a model of grace.

So, even this year as I extend Mother’s Day wishes to those other mothers in my life who are dear to my heart, I suspect that I will be giving more thought to my mom this year than I have in quite some time. Indeed, I still tear up when I remember saying to her my last goodbye.

But even though this forthcoming first of June marks thirty years since she’s been gone, so long as the tears remain with me, so does she.

And I’m cool with that.

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