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the gift of motherhood

My grandma was (and remains) one of my favorite women. She wasn't an easy lady, but she was quite an amazing one. She had pockets of sweetness, truckloads of goodness.

She was kind, hilarious and she could be tough. My mom often says, "Girl, you are Nancy Belgeri's granddaughter..." when I tell her stories of my dealings with children. She loved without end, but governed with high expectations.

I had a middle schooler student of mine once say, "I love when Mrs. Mudd laughs at something I say because Mrs. Mudd doesn't laugh at things that aren't funny. She doesn't pretend like it's funny if it's not."

Grandma was the same. She didn't suffer fools, she wasn't afraid of a consequence and--to me, at least--she spoke her mind clearly, plainly. And if it stung? Well, fix it.

As a nurse, she had deep wells of compassion, but she didn't feel sorry for people. Figured rightly, I suppose, that they could have chosen differently but didn't and there wasn't a thing worth pitying, when learning a lesson would suffice well enough. And if she had high expectations for you, you better believe she had set higher ones for herself.

But she always had this thing. She said mothers has a particular job of making sure children love their fathers. She said it was a kindness fathers never had to return because children automatically loved their mothers.

I can hear her now, "My children loved me whether I deserved it or not." That was the gift of motherhood she said.

It puts me in mind of August in "The Secret Life of Bees" who says women are the best beekeepers because women have husbands and sons. Women have a lifetime of loving things that sting.

I was telling a co-worker the other day about Grandma and about this belief of hers that mothers had to give their children this gift. I told my co-worker that it turned out to be quite a gift she gave us all because we all loved my grandpa to the moon and back.

Looking back through the eyes of an adult, I can see what a selfless gift it was, particularly because I'm not sure in my grandma's life that my grandpa was always the example of perfect love to her that he was to us. He couldn't possibly have been as perfect as we imagine him. No one is.

I talk to my mom every Saturday morning on the phone. And I told her this story that I had told my co-worker. And she listened as she does... while she's doing all the other things she does in her own home.

I said, "I just think Grandma was such a tough human being, but it was such a great thing that she always said that. That she made it a priority to make sure you guys really loved your dad in the way that all of you deserved."

Mom said, "You...? You know how she always ended that story, right?"

I, intrigued by another layer I didn't know, said, "No..?"

"Ramona," Mom said. "Dad worked nights. Grandma was with all of us ALL THE TIME. She always ended it with, 'Plus...if children love their father they leave you alone when he's around."

And I loved THAT even more. Oh how it made me laugh!

I said, "Okay, now THAT sounds like Nancy Belgeri!"

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