A Mother’s Gift: Connection, by Elizabeth H. Cottrell

Elizabeth (top) with daughter and mother

The web of feminine connection

As Mother’s Day approaches, my heart is filled to overflowing with gratitude and love for my amazing 87-year-old mother and my precious grown daughter.

The threads that connect us are not just genetic; they are threads of love, support, and mutual respect. The threads also connect us to a larger web of wonderful women: grandmothers, aunts, sisters, sisters-in-law, nieces, daughters-in-law, and friends.

My mother turned love into connection.

Long before I began studying the power of connection, my mother was a terrific connector. When my siblings and I were children, she was always involved with our play and activities, pouring out her love and attention to make us feel seen, heard, and valued.

We loved the outdoors, so she took us to the woods for walks, pointing out trees, birds, and wildflowers along the way. Together we hiked to “Woodside Water Wonderland,” our name for a rippling creek that cascaded through the woods to meet the larger Goose Creek. Here we waded and built rock walls to divert the water into faster channels, reveling in the freshness and magic of nature’s beauty all around us.

On summer Sundays after church, often with one or more families joining us, Mom packed up a picnic and hauled it (and us) down to the farm’s lake where she and Dad supervised fishing, swimming, canoeing, sailing, and water-skiing. Tired, waterlogged, and sunburned, we later fell into bed, mumbled our prayers, and slept soundly.

When I had friends over on rainy days, she let us raid her linen closet, set up card tables, and move furniture so we could make tents, caves, and forts. Oh, the shivery delight of giggling, whispering, and reading with a flashlight in those dark places! Mom relegated some of her clothes and costume jewelry for our dress-up play. Who knew sheer curtains could make such fabulous bridal veils? On nice days, she might organize a tea party in the yard or chase us with the hose while we pretended to run away from the spray, squealing and laughing as the cold water hit our skin.

Mom had a wonderful vegetable garden, and sometimes she recruited us to help her snap peas or shuck corn. Some serious conversations (the “birds and bees” talk comes immediately to mind) took place while we worked together on those homegrown vegetables!

The kitchen, with stainless steel counters all ‘round and its large, round wooden table with a lazy Susan in the middle, was a hub of activity where we were always welcome to bring our homework or help with whatever she was doing. Mom not only prepared our meals there, but she did laundry, arranged flowers, pasteurized milk, and preserved the bounty of her garden through pickling, freezing, and canning. We surely tried her patience and interrupted her work, but we learned to cook and undoubtedly learned a great deal about management from a woman who ran a large farm household with grace and skill.

Mom imparted her love of books and stories that connected us with outside ideas, people, and places.  We crowded together on the sofa for wonderful read-aloud sessions: we traveled the world with Babar, explored New York with Heloise, visited Paris with Madeleine, discovered the secret garden with Mary Lennox, and solved mysteries with Nancy Drew or Sherlock Holmes.

Oh yes, my mother was a master at connecting with her children.

Love in action

Love isn’t just a noun; it’s also a verb. There is action in my mother’s love when she connects, as she still does, by sending articles, books, and gifts, thoughtfully selected because of her attentiveness to our interests and activities. There is action in our love for others when we go beyond the feeling and reach out to help or encourage.

Her love has always been a precious gift of connection.

Thank you, Mom, and Happy Mother’s Day! My tribute to you will be to pass it on.

[This post was expanded from a piece originally published in [The Gratitude Book Project: Celebrating Moms & Motherhood]

Elizabeth H. Cottrell

About Elizabeth H. Cottrell

Elizabeth calls herself a “Connection Curator.” A curator is someone who collects and organizes things to present them in ways that bring meaning and value. She is a passionate student of everything related to life’s essential connections. She shares her findings at Heartspoken.com.

Elizabeth is also a freelance blogger and writer (RiverwoodWriter.com). She works with small business owners to increase their visibility both online and offline, because “Before you sell, you have to connect.” She’s working on a digital publishing certification to help clients get published on Kindle and other e-book formats.

Connect with Elizabeth on TwitterFacebook, and Google+.

See also The Gratitude Book Project.

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21 Comments

Filed under Guest Writers & Bloggers, Special Events

21 responses to “A Mother’s Gift: Connection, by Elizabeth H. Cottrell

  1. Beautiful, Elizabeth. I loved reading all your memories…reminds me to keep doing all that with my kids. Hopefully, one day, they will look back with fondness like you do 🙂 Your mum and your daughter are very blessed to have you.

  2. Stacy S. Jensen

    What a wonderful time with your mother. Thanks for sharing with us. Have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

  3. Esther

    NOW I understand why we are so much alike, Elizabeth! Our mothers are/were so very much alike. You are fortunate to have her still and for your daughter to have both of you in her life.

  4. Yes indeed, I know how fortunate I am, Esther. It wasn’t until I was grown that I realized how rare and wonderful my childhood was.

  5. Pingback: My Mother’s precious gift of connection | Heartspoken

  6. Thanks so much for having me, Karen! I’ve just posted something at Heartspoken.com to steer people your way.

  7. What a beautiful tribute to your Mother, Elizabeth. I’m sure you have passed some of those very same things to your family…how blessed you are!

    MakingTheWriteConnections

  8. I think it isn’t a stretch to say that anyone reading this post is certain to fall wildly in love with your mother AND your memories. Just as you’ve written the ultimate Mother’s Day Card. Thanks for lending us an opportunity to take a walk in the woods, a seat on the porch, a spot on the sofa…I’ve enjoyed every moment 🙂

    • Oh, Barbara, you are terrific to read and respond so enthusiastically! This is high praise from you, because I love YOUR blog and writing (just finished The Secret of Lies and will review soon!). Thanks so much.

      • No, no, THANK YOU, Elizabeth! What an absolutely beautiful thing for you to say, and I’m seriously thrilled to bits that you’ve read TSOL.

        Certain lines and images stirred up from your post have been twining through my thoughts since reading it this afternoon, such is the power of your writing. And yet, now, quite incredibly you’ve turned the tables and left me feeling like a million bucks 😀

  9. What a wonderful childhood you had! and what a beautiful mother, daughter, and you . . .

  10. So many of us are indeed blessed with great mothers – I had two, Mom and my Aunt Agnes. Always great to have you on the blog, Elizabeth. Thanks all for visiting and helping Elizabeth feel so warmly welcomed!

    • Your readers are the greatest, Karen. They really HAVE made me feel so welcome. That speaks volumes about you, of course! And thanks for the great reminder that there are often people other than biological mothers who have played important maternal roles in our lives. They deserve a hug on Mother’s Day too!

      • How I wish I could hug them, just one more time. I lost Mom about eight years ago and Ang about five years ago. I still miss them awful. But I know they are here with me. I see, feel, and hear their messages all the time!

  11. Mickey Baxter-Spade

    An absolutely lovely tribute Elizabeth. What an enchanting childhood and your Mother’s kitchen sounds marvelous! I found myself walking through the Woodside Water Wonderland with you. The photo of the three generations is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  12. Thank you for stopping by, Mickey! Elizabeth’s sense of connection and her story of her mother and daughter are indeed a wonderful tribute.

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