Children learn what they live and like many I gained knowledge by watching my mom. Conservative values were taught not just through lessons but by life experience. For Mom life has been a grand adventure. Living the American Dream, my parents moved to Alaska in its infancy. The skills Mom learned as a child in rural New England helped her to become a Pioneer in the remote state. An independent spirit, while maybe not a requirement to live there, certainly was helpful when living in an area frequented by moose.
Often people don’t realize that in many parts of rural America there are few or no paid emergency staff. So it was where we lived. My parents, like many, joined together with their neighbors to form the Volunteer Fire Department. Watching Mom help others and seeing the dedication of the group left a lasting impression. In later years my parents were part of the all-volunteer Search and Rescue organization.
Some believe that the government is best equipped to help others. But my experience watching my parents leads me to believe that often neighbors know who needs help and what they need.
There were times when my mom worked outside the home and there were times when she was able to be a homemaker. But always these choices were by deciding what was best for the family. Watching Mom I realized that sometimes we don’t get to put ourselves first. I also learned that sometimes people have to make sacrifices for the betterment of the family. As I look at our country and the fiscal woes I am reminded of Mom. In order to get our bills back under control we might have to take that weekend job. Maybe instead of a fancy vacation we might need to take a camping trip.
Some believe that the government operates on an unlimited budget. We remember Margaret Thatcher’s comment on the problem of living off the money of others…at some point they run out of money too. Living within our means may be a conservative trait but perhaps it should be one that both families and government would do better following.
When we kids were grown Mom took on the challenge of returning to school. Being the oldest one in class can be not only scary but intimidating. But she did it entering the work force full time at a point many are thinking of retirement. Watching Mom I learned that with a little faith (and a lot of effort) I could choose my path, sometimes traveling the road less taken and sometimes heading down the freeway.
Some believe that we are limited by our age and want the government to similarly limit the resources (health benefits and otherwise) by their perceived notions. They believe productivity ends at a certain age.
I don’t remember Mom ever talking politics when I was young. I expect she did but young ears have selective hearing. What I did learn though is that it’s not the party we vote for, it’s the person. And when we look at the person we look at his or her past actions. Of course, it’s not just politicians that we look at: it’s businessmen, coworkers, church leaders and even friends. We base our expectations of future activities on things we know about their past.
Some believe the ability to give great speeches is the sign of a great leader. But I learned from Mom that a plain spoken person may bring a lot more to the table. As a teen one of my family’s closest, most admired and smartest friends only finished sixth grade. Flowery speech and promises to change the future without a history of action may mean believers are left holding empty promises.
My parents taught us kids many things. The difference between right and wrong. Don’t wear brown socks with black shoes. How to change a tire. Important things no doubt, but now as an adult, I realize so much more was learned by watching them. The example of things done, not stated, taught me a lot.
So on Mother’s Day I look at my mom. She’s now really retired though not sitting at home. Life is still an adventure. I look at what lessons we’ve learned, through words but especially actions and see how we’ve been influenced. I say we because her granddaughter too has benefited from watching. We’ve learned to take personal responsibility; to embrace life and live to the fullest; to take advantage of the opportunities given to us by America. Thanks Mom for your lessons.