The women in my family are the super heroes of my life. Putting others first, creating life from desolation, nurturing those around them even when life was not good to them. Mothers, sisters, daughters. Here are their stories.
A turbulent beginning
My mother has a heart full of love even with her turbulent childhood. She was born during WWII in Germany. By the age of five when the war ended, she had lost her father and her baby brother, and the family found themselves on the communist side—East Germany. The chance of a happy childhood unraveled before her eyes. She was left with the heartache and loneliness of a broken life. My brave grandmother fled to West Germany with my mother and her older sister, my aunt. After several years as refugees, they made the daring move across the ocean to America to begin a new life. No family was here to greet them. They faced the challenge of starting over in a foreign land, not knowing the language, feeling alone.
A heart knit together with unity and love
Women bring with them into the world a certain virtue, a divine gift that makes them adept at instilling such qualities as faith, courage, empathy, and refinement in relationships and in cultures. (D. Todd Christofferson, The Moral Force of Women.)
Despite the hardship, my mother began the work of knitting her life back together, one strand of thread at a time. She married and had three kids—I was the baby. She was a stay-home mom while we were young, took night classes when we were older and graduated from college. She became a teacher, a mortgage loan officer, a store owner and manager—all the while weaving a resilient tapestry unique to our family by virtue of her role as a mother.
My mother values marriage, motherhood and homemaking, setting an example for us to follow. By her example she taught me to care for the home and to be a kind, loving, and forgiving person. Her dedication to the family was a daily, tireless task which she performed with a loving happiness like none other. I had the safe and contented childhood she had been denied, all because of her desire to make our home a center of love.
It didn’t seem like my mother was a foreigner—she fit in so well with the other mothers. It wasn’t until my friends would comment on her “adorable German accent”, the sound of which was so normal to me, that I remembered she wasn’t from around here. How hard it must have been for her to work to fit in while keeping a happy nature all the while. And yet she worked the stitching, the yarn, and the embroidery of her life with patience and love.
As you may have guessed, my mother learned to knit. With all she did for the family, I have no idea how she found the time to sit and knit. We have blankets, potholders, mittens, sweaters, scarves, and hats to prove it. She also sews, embroiders, and crochets. She is a knitter, but not just with yarn. She knit the fabric of the family together, creating the colorful tapestry of her legacy, woven with threads of sacrifice, love, and dedication.
Motherhood is a sacred role. It wraps the family with a blanket of warmth during the cold and bitter trials of life. It is a safety net for the fallen—a safe place to land when heartache pushes us down to the ground. Motherhood clothes us with dignity, tradition, and eternal truth. It brightens a sad disposition. It is weather-worn, sometimes to protect us from the harsh winds and burning suns that beat on our soul. It is like a well-made garment—stitched with threads of divinity given to women from God, versatile in design and beauty, sturdy and reliable to stand the test of time. And like a favorite garment, motherhood should be protected, cared for, and honored by the very people it nurtures if it is to continue to cradle and shape the generations of eternity.
Motherhood is a super-hero’s role. To keep the family together is to keep society from unraveling around us. My mother is the first super-hero I’ve had the honor to know. I’ve since found the super-hero in many more women around me, for I’ve witnessed their divine roles as nurturers, caregivers, sisters, and friends.
In all events, a mother can exert an influence unequaled by any other person in any other relationship. By the power of her example and teaching, her sons learn to respect womanhood and to incorporate discipline and high moral standards in their own lives. Her daughters learn to cultivate their own virtue and to stand up for what is right, again and again, however unpopular. (D. Todd Christofferson, The Moral Force of Women.)
Today is Mother’s Day. I pray you can reach into your heart and remember the sacred role your mother played in shaping you to become the person you are today.
Motherhood is not limited to those who bear children. My aunt did not have children, but in many ways she is a mother to me. Next week, I will tell the story of a woman who witnessed desolation and created beauty.
Nanette O'Neal loves the gospel and is very happy to share her testimony on LDS Blogs. She is a convert to the church and still feels the spirit burn strong within her heart. She graduated from Mason Gross School of the Arts with a degree in music education and has taught children and adults in the private and public sphere for over twenty years. Nanette continues to study the gospel and the art of writing. She writes weekly inspirational articles on her blog and is currently working on an LDS fantasy novel series, A Doorway Back to Forever. You can find her at NanetteONeal.blogspot.com. Nanette has a wonderful husband, talented son, and three beautiful dogs.