Getting to Know My Mother

We discovered some treasures in parents’ house last weekend.  My sister found a bundle of papers which give great insight into parts of my mother that I never saw.

Who knew that she was an artist?  And yet here was a sweet watercolor done by her.

And a huge thank you to whatever instructor at the Deaconess Nursing School required the students to write out Philosophy of Life and Philosophy of Nursing statements.  These were probably written sometime between 1946 and 1948.

My Philosophy of Life

by Elinor L. H.

No one really knows the ultimate goal of life, we only have ideas.  I don’t know what is beyond this life, but I do know that I can live this present life to the best of my ability to prepare for what may come.

I was born and brought up in a Baptist home, therefore I have been thoroughly exposed to that form of thinking.

As far as life is concerned, I believe that since all men are created equal, I should be a friend to all regardless of their race, color, or creed.  Also, life is a process of give as well as take;  in order to be happy one should share will [sic] all his heart and soul.  To make oneself happy one has only to make somebody else happy.

I believe death is a passing on to eternal life;  therefore it should never be feared.  I have never had to face, as yet, the death of a close relative or friend so I’ve not been able to test my faith in this situation.

I find this interesting on a number of levels.  First, all adolescents or young adults  go through a stage where they transition from their parents’ beliefs and values to their own.  Parents definitely impact their children. Proverbs 22:6 tells us, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  There is a Jesuit saying, “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man.” There is no doubt that my mother’s Baptist upbringing influenced her, but I see here someone who is still deciding whether to fully embrace all that the Baptist church teaches.

She isn’t sure what is beyond this life.  And she acknowledges that her faith has never been tested by the death of someone close to her.  This would be tested soon enough when her brother Guilford dies.

Another point of interest: Martin Luther King, Jr., some 20 years later, would be preaching to the choir with my mother.

And finally, she understood a concept that many people never understand, and that is that to be truly happy you must put others first.  Andrew Peterson put it this way in his song Dancing in the Minefields –

…But to lose your life for another I’ve heard
Is a good place to begin
‘Cause the only way to find your life
Is to lay your own life down
And I believe it’s an easy price
For the life that we have found

My parents’ 58 years of marriage demonstrate that this was something both of them embraced.  My father is still playing it out today as my mother is no longer capable.

Philosophy of Nursing

by Elinor L. H.

Nursing is the ministering to the sick, mentally and physically.  It is the act of trying to bring a person back to good health and finding himself again, also helping him to retain good health.

Those who are part of the nursing profession are very carefully picked.  The [sic] must rank high in character and in mental ability.  Nurses are carefully trained in the sciences, in Psychology to be able to understand herself and her patients, in efficiency and many other things.

Most mothers I would class as nurses in one sense of the word.  At least my mother always seemed to be wonderful in taking care of anyone in the family when they were sick and comforted them.  Also she did her best to feed and clothe us properly and keep us clean, thus preventing as much illness as possible.

A nurse must be understanding.  She should have a sincere, quiet, efficient manner about her work.  The nurse must have good control over herself in order to help the patient as much as possible.  Above all the nurse should have her own philosophy of life if she is going to help her patients through dark hours.  If she has all these traits she will probably have a pleasing personality.

I like that she noted the similarities between mothers and nurses.  My mother gave up her career as a nurse for many years to be a stay-at-home mom and yet I’m sure she called upon those skills every day as she raised my brothers, sister and me.  I have a degree in Psychology which I laughingly tell people is a worthless degree; yet God knew that nothing could prepare me more for my own path of motherhood.  The degree is worthless in the paying jobs it qualifies me to hold; it is priceless in the job that I have.

The more I read about my mother, the better I understand her.  The more I read about my mother, the more I realize we have in common.  Truly these papers are treasures!

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