My Mom, the Volunteer

When I was little my mom volunteered at the school. She did those ears and eyes tests they used to have back then. “You won’t believe how dirty some of the kids’ ears are!”

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Her being at my school always embarrassed me. I’m not sure why, but I remember being lined up and walking through the halls to go to the library or lunch or something and my friend ribbing me. “Cammie, there’s your mom!”

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I ignored her, turned my head the opposite way while looking out of the corner of my eye at my mom in her dress and high heels frantically waving to get my attention.

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She was always up for helping whether it be Brownies when I was a kid or in her later years whenever there was something going on at her senior apartment. She didn’t let an opportunity to provide service as well as commune with others.

In her Bible I found the following verse underlined:
“Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble and prayerful always. When God’s children are in need, you be the one to help them out.” Romans 12:12-13

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I recently started volunteering in the spirit of my mom. I work at the Women’s Center of my local hospital greeting patients and showing them to the dressing room where they will shed their clothes for a thin hospital gown. I make sure they’re warm enough as they wait for their tests by providing a nice warm robe.

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After my first training day, the volunteer I was working with led me down to the cafeteria where a group of volunteers were eating lunch. (Free food to volunteers, Yay!) I got my sandwich and hesitantly sat with the group. This was out of my comfort zone, sitting with a bunch of strangers.

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I was introduced to everyone, knowing I would never remember their names. “I like the community of being with others,” my trainer told me.

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That comment was so like my mom! I forced myself to sit there listening to the banter and discussing things like one woman’s new InstaPot. Even though my whole career had been in customer service and acting as a liaison between my company and clients required me to banter about things with folks, I just lost that skill somehow during my time of depression and illness.

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I was the first to leave with my bag of Sunchips, “Don’t run off now,” my trainer pleaded. So I sat for awhile longer then made my exit. Next time I will stay longer.

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My new schedule has me working till 4pm and the dining room is closed when I get off. Part of the reason I am volunteering is to have communication with others, so I am not so alone during the day. Yes, I communicate for a short time with patients, but comradery is so important to a person as isolated as me.

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My mom was a mall walker. After she completed her rounds she would sit in the food court with a soda and talk with people. She got to know them. They became a part of her life.  So I am thinking that I could go early to my 12:30 volunteer shift and have my lunch with the group. I will push through this thing that is out of my comfort zone and talk to these strangers until they become my friends.
That’s what my mom would do.

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“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Revelation 3:20

The Year of Mom

If you’ve been following my blog, you know I have had a tough couple years after losing my son in 2014. I wrote about my trials and how I learned to cope with things by employing Dialectic Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Then, suddenly, I felt like I didn’t have anything left to write. I had covered all the coping skills I learned and I talked about how I used the Bible along with therapy to find my way. It’s taken me a few months to figure out my next steps. What to do with my life and how to get through each day. Enter: Mom.

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My mom passed away several years ago and there is honestly not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her. She shaped my life as I was growing up, gave me the idea that I could do anything and I attribute both she and my dad to my professional and personal success.

She comes back to me in the most unusual circumstances, like when I use a public restroom, I remember her telling me how she always used the first stall because it’s the cleanest one. Why? Because when the janitor starts cleaning, she starts with the first one and she will most likely be called away to do another task before she is finished with the rest, so therefore; the first stall will always be clean.

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It has been sitting on my brain to be more like her -my mom. She was close to the Lord, reading her devotions every day. I’ve got her Bible now and it is filled with her highlights and underlining from her daily studies. I’ve decided to go to her Bible first, when reading my own devotions to see if she had any insight into a particular passage on some day long ago.

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Today, my devotions led me to one of my favorite verses:

“Yes, I am the vine and you are the branches. Whoever lives in me and I in him shall produce a large crop of fruit. For apart from me you can’t do a thing.” John 15:5

The chapter goes on to talk about how Jesus’ “true disciples” produce bountiful harvests and when we obey Him, we are living in His love. That is the part my mom underlined in her Bible, and she went further underlining:

“I demand that you love each other as much as I love you. And here is how to measure it—the greatest love is shown when a person lays down his life for his friends.” John 15:12-13

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My mom did this.  She laid down her life, cast everything aside to leave her home in Minnesota to take care of my niece, her grand-daughter, in Florida. She had no life there but to be a role model to an eight-year old girl whose mother had lost custody. She gave up her routine, her friends, her family -really her life- to go to an unknown state a thousand miles away and love a little girl. Talk about strong!

My family in Ohio eventually took in my niece and she lived with us for years until her mother, my sister, was ready to get her back. But it was the unselfish love of my mom that saved that little girl.

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And love people? My mom did! She never met a stranger and spoke to every one she met, no matter who they were.

So, in this month of January, the month of resolutions, I am going to start blogging about how I am modeling my life after my mom, Doris. Something simple for today:

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My mom put on her makeup every day, no matter what. Even when she was sick with cancer, she put that make up on and read her devotions, first thing in the morning. In fact, my sister Shan who was her care giver in the end, told me that one day Mom had accidentally used her blue eye liner on her eyebrows! As she was really sick by then, Shan decided to let it go and not tell her. It put a smile on Shan’s face, and no one saw her that day!

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I will put my makeup on and read my devotions every day. I know that sounds easy, but for someone like me who has a hard time making sure I take a shower every day, it’s a good goal- an action step. It’s a beginning.
There is one thing, though, that I won’t do like Mom; I won’t carry my lipstick in my bra when I don’t take my purse somewhere!
I don’t wear lipstick.