Mums- what could we do without them? My Mum recently turned 75. With my brother and our families we organised a get together to appreciate and say thank you to her for all she has done and continues to do for us.
In this last year Mum’s health has not been good following a fall in December 2016 leading to a fracture of her right shoulder and elbow with several weeks in hospital recovering from surgery. We are very thankful that she has pulled through this difficult time.
With that in mind here is a short life history and tribute to my Mum with 5 life lessons I have learnt from her:
Santosh Kumari Raheja (ne Kathpal) was born in a small town called Kamalia in Punjab. She was the 5th daughter of her parents in a culture that strongly valued boys over girls. At the time of the partition of India in 1947 she was only 5 years old. Her parents had just moved with her father’s brother’s family into their own purpose built 6-8 bedroom home (no one I ask seems quite sure!). It must have been quite lively with a total of 13 children! They could only live there for about a month before being told they would have to leave for their own safety. So abandoning practically everything they had they were taken by truck to a refugee camp along with Mum’s younger brother and 5 day old sister. This meant first going to live for about a month in a single room – this time with a total of 35 people!
Eventually the family settled in the city of Jalandhar on the Indian side of Punjab, living in a home that had been vacated by a Muslim family that had fled to Pakistan. It was the biggest and most brutal refugee criss the world had seen up to that time.
Mum went on to study history at college and got married in October 1964. We came to England in 1968 and she initially did some factory jobs before teaching until the early 1980s, having to stop owing to ill-health.
Mum may never have written a book, been a public orator or for that matter accomplish everything she wanted to. Even so, she taught me several important lessons by her example.
Here are 5 life lessons my brother and I have learnt from our Mum:
1 Unconditional love.
My Mum got married at the age of 22. I was a honeymoon baby who turned her world upside down. She took her history finals while pregnant with me, and when I was born she had to adjust to all the challenges of being a first time mother. I know on many occasions both my brother and I have been an ongoing challenge. In particular our choices over faith (a video on that is here) and life style have not been what she would necessarily have expected or wanted. Over the years there has been tension and pain. However, over that same period of time what I have come to realise and appreciate is my Mum’s unreserved love and concern for us. We may disagree over a number of things, but what I am sure of is that she genuinely has my welfare at heart.
2 The importance of family.
Mum has always gone out of her way to make her family a priority, putting us ahead of her career or other things she may have wanted to do. A very big part of that has been to do with food. Cooking well, making sure we are well fed and eating meals together has been her way of showing us how important caring for one’s family is.
She has also constantly reminded us to keep in touch and not neglect our relationships with one another. So often when I speak to her she wants to remind me if I have checked in with my brother to see how he is doing. She also often reminds me when I have not been in touch to find out how my Dad is doing.
3 The importance of responsibility.
Mum and Dad initially came to England in 1968 only for 2 years. I remember my mother sitting me down and telling me that my parents had decided to stay on – “for you and your brother’s future. So don’t mess up!” (no pressure!). It took courage for Mum and Dad to move to a new country and culture that was very alien to them. At the same time over the years I have come to appreciate the countless of ways they sought to take responsibility for us and our lives.
4 The power of perseverance.
When Mum wants something to be done she will do all that she can to let you know she is serious! She does not give up easily and has often encouraged us to not take for granted the privileges of living in England with all its opportunities to learn and grow. Maybe its because of the opportunities she was not able to have, but I have gradually realised over the years how she has influence d me to look for and strive to make the most of whatever I have been given or life has dealt to me. More recently I have been struck withMum’s determination to recover and get better from her injuries and time in hospital.
5 The importance of speaking your mind.
My Mum can be disarmingly honest and direct about her opinions and advice. We may often not agree, but I appreciate her willingness to say what she honestly things and feels. As someone who struggles at times to articulate and express what I am thinking and feeling, her willingness not to be intimidated by others in terms of rank or position has been both a challenge and encouragement to me.
Proverbs 23:25 says, “May your father and mother rejoice; may she who gave birth to you be joyful.”
So thank you Mum for being there for us and continuing to consistently show us your love and appreciation. May you grow in knowing Christ’s love, joy and peace in wonderful and marvellous ways.
What life lessons have you learnt from your Mum?