|Winnifred Trustlove Dale Latimer
March 28, 1911–April 21, 1997
If my mother were alive, she would be 105 today. She’s been gone nearly 20 years, but sometimes I hear her voice so clearly, especially when I’m, as she used to say, feeling out of sorts.
Often when I was upset by a relationship, she’d listen and let me complain. But she refused to feed my sense of outrage by sympathizing too strongly. As soon as I started to rehash or escalate my complaints, she’d say:
When you start finding fault with too many people, you need to look at yourself.
That was all she’d say. No lectures or sermons. Just Look at yourself.
|Our conversations often took place
while she was working around in the kitchen.
Did I welcome that admonition? No. I did not. Who wants to look at her faults and accept responsibility when the martyr role feels so good?
But now I’m grateful for it. More times than I can count, the memory of those words has stopped me in my tracks and forced me to ask myself why I’m so mad or upset. It isn’t always easy, but the process is good for me.
I’ve added an addendum: The only person you have the power to change is yourself. Make Yourself Scarce
Now, I don’t mean to imply Mother wasn’t sympathetic to the pain kids inflict on one other. She didn’t like it one bit when I was left out or blamed unfairly. But she didn’t want me to major on the offense. Generally she limited her advice to:
I believe I’d let them look me up next time.
|Wonder who or what I had been
complaining about here. Probably Will & Ted.
I was almost seven when this picture was taken.
In other words, don’t wait for them to call you. Get busy doing something else. Ask someone over to play or to go to the movie. Let them miss you. If it should turn out that they aren’t true friends, you’ll be too busy to care or even notice.
Actually, over the years, I’ve embraced that counsel when a relationship got too hard or complicated.
And I added my own maxim: Life is too short to hang around with people who make you feel bad.
|I hope my children remember her wisdom, too.
Don’t Seek Revenge
Sometimes Mother would offer comfort by saying:
Remember, what goes around, comes around.
In vindictive-kid-speak: Just wait. They’ll get theirs. But that wasn’t what Mother meant. If we launched into a gleeful rendition of what we hoped would happen to the meanie, she’d remind us of the corollary:
It’s a vicious circle.
Don’t fall into the trap of wanting revenge. It will come back to you.
To my rebellious declaration: I don’t need them anyway. I can take care of myself, she’d respond just remember,
If you decide to take care of yourself (look out for number one), you better get good at it because you will have it to do.
Don’t Wound with Words
Today, I’m reminded of another admonition. Be careful what you put in writing. You never know who might read.
I sure saw that in action the day our geometry teacher intercepted Cheryl’s snarky note about her orthopedic shoes. Did I mention that kids are cruel?
Some people never seem to outgrow their cruel streak. They love to spew their poison out on whoever will listen. We’ve all written emails and letters that would burn the hair off the recipients if we sent them. It can be good therapy, but getting it off our chest in private is what we really need, not lashing out.
|Daddy and Mother wouldn’t know what to think
about some of the foolish things people write
about themselves and others online today.
With Facebook, Twitter and all the other social media, Mother’s advice couldn’t be more timely. So as I post, I try to ask myself some questions you’ve probably heard before.
Is it kind?
Is it true?
Will it help or hurt?
Do I want my children or grandchildren to read this or to talk to someone in this way?And, perhaps as important as anything:
Is it any of my business?
Besides, I can’t forget: What goes around comes around. It’s a vicious circle, you know.
Happy Birthday, Mama!
Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious,
but fools are consumed by their own lips.
Copyright © Reflections from Dorothy’s Ridge 2016. All rights reserved.