With Mother’s Day coming up soon, I look back to memories of growing up and the influence of all the females in my life. Many of whom are no longer here.
There were aunts, teachers (mostly nuns), cousins and, of course, my mother and my grandmother. As the youngest grandchild of 7 with a Mom that worked, I spent a lot of time being taken care of by my grandmother, affectionately known as Babci (Babcia means grandmother in Polish).
I looked up to my Babci and Mom and learned so much from them (that’s Babci, Mom & me in the photo). Today, I reflect on what’s important to me now, how I spend my time, what I have in my life, and see how that relates to what I witnessed as a child and teenager growing up around them. I’m so proud of the influence they had on me and how that has benefited my life.
Three areas in particular stand out…
Gardening and nature to stay grounded
I love gardening, all things plants, flowers, and visiting Botanical Gardens when traveling too. In fact, I spent last weekend traveling to 2 large botanical gardens with friends and had a fabulous time! Sunburned, allergies in full effect from the spring pollen, tired and sore from 6+ hours of walking around each day plus 2.5 hours in the car to get there and back, but my heart is full and soul fulfilled.
Babci had a wood shelf with 3 levels of snake plants on the back porch. If my memory serves, she probably had 15-20 plants in total. She’d take a coffee cup, the biggest one they had, and would sip the water into her mouth then blow it out over the plants to mist them – her mouth was the original plant mister.
One day I saw her through the window, she was on the back porch crying. I was little and immediately thought something was wrong. Turns out she was grating horseradish root! Even though she was out on the porch in the fresh air, it still caused her to cry. Cross my heart it seemed way worse than when she chopped onions!
The importance of daily rituals and routines for personal and spiritual development
I love to visit churches and sacred sites when I travel to new places – there’s something so peaceful and reverent about them.
Growing up I had a strong influence from both my Babci and Mom when it comes to spirituality, dedication, devotion, daily and weekly practices. They both prayed and attended church on a regular basis.
When my grandmother couldn’t attend church anymore because she was no longer able to walk, I remember her caretaker would carry her into the kitchen, placing her in a chair. And on the kitchen table would be a stack of prayer cards and prayer books.
Babci would spend hours everyday, meticulously going through each prayer card and prayer book pages, silently praying for everyone and everything.
This was her daily practice, her morning routine and later in the day, her afternoon routine.
There were many spirituality influences too, these one stand out the most in this moment: statues of Holy Mary on the dresser with a large rosary draped around her neck, holy pictures of angels, archangels, popes and saints on the wall and in picture frames propped up on the furniture, a last supper picture near the dining table with palms from Palm Sunday positioned behind it – which we’d replace every year with new palms.
Strong work ethic supporting connection and purpose in life
Babci was a cleaning lady at the local hospital. She didn’t speak English and would walk miles to get there and walk miles to return home. She was doing important work to keep the hospital clean.
Mom also worked in the medical field as an x-ray tech at a doctors office, while working at the hospital on weekends to get her foot in the door. Then she went full time at the hospital when the doctor retired. She was so smart… always planning, strategizing and putting in the work.
Mom was always connecting with others and helping patients directly. And after the long work days, she would go to Babci’s to check in on her. And travel to see Dziadzi, my grandfather, in the nursing home in another town. Then finally home to us kids who were now junior high and high schoolers to take care of us. Grocery shopping happened in between all of that, and preparing meals for my Dad and us – or at least making sure the fridge was full.
These amazing ladies not only taught me the grace of kindness and compassion, but also the importance of daily rituals and routines for personal and spiritual development.
While my personal practices today may look different than theirs, I’m so grateful for how they infused this dedication into my life. From my journaling to my Reiki practices, and my meditation practice – when it’s that time of day, these memories often flood back.
Wishing a Happy Mother’s Day to you and yours.