Before There Was Tim McGraw's "Humble And Kind" There Was My Mom

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There’s a quiet at 4am that sinks deep into your soul. The light outside hasn’t started peaking through your window yet, the room is dark, your memories are playing catch with your dreams. You lay there, maybe you look at the ceiling, maybe you start thinking about the bricks that built you, the way I do.

I feel a cold come over me and snuggle in deeper under my comforter. Almost 20 years ago this season, my mom walked in through the door, all brown hair, brown blazer-skirt combo, and kitten heels. I kneeled on the bed and my petite 7 year old body shifted its weight onto hers. She carried me. She anchored me.

I work my mind out of the 90s and back to December 2017. I was asked recently who my mom was and how her death changed me. Those two answers overlap. Who she was created enough of an impression over 10 years to last me a lifetime, to guide me through the present 15 years without her.

My mom had a hard deck of cards to work with - she was an immigrant, a single working mom, a woman with more responsibility than time -and yet my favorite memories with her tell the story of a woman who placed more value on the love she shared than on the hardships or successes she was dealt.

We so often find ourselves sucked in by the process. There’s the anxiety and stress that come with new experiences, the high that comes off of pure contact with success or with survival, the need to prove you matter more than the moment in time you’re currently in, at the expense of anything or anyone.

My mom never let the process own her. Instead, she kneeled and prayed every night for my brother and I. She poured foundation for us, bucket by bucket, for lives that would be anchored in determination and humility. She was my prelude to Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind.”

I have more “on paper” successes at 24 than my mother ever had the chance to achieve in her lifetime. As I look at the ceiling and feel the tears coming down my cheeks, I’m proud of who I’ve been through those moments and how from New York to Geneva what has mattered to me is that I’ve poured onto the foundation she set for me.

It’s been bucket after bucket of determination and humility, above all else.

Certain seasons call for blessings to be counted as reminders that life is more than what other people can see from the outside. Lives are created, and ultimately honored, based off person to person interactions. When I think about my mom I remember how she made ends meet to pay for a girl's education (a girl she had never met) in Ecuador, before girls’ education was the hot button topic. I think about the way all my childhood friends remember her as the mom who cared, and celebrated our report cards with dinners outs, without any inkling of how those checks stretched her thin financially.

I used to sit on my mom’s lap a lot as a child, it’s the feeling that’s stayed with me the most since her death.

They say people will remember how you make them feel, above all else. It’s a good ruler to measure your actions by.