It’s been a long time since we spoke. Actually, I still talk to you a lot. And I still hear you a lot. I hear the things you told me…over and over and over. I hear the things that other people told me you said to them. And I hear things you would have said to me if you could. But it’s been a long time since we actually spoke.
I still say things to you. I tell you about work, and Kenny, and life. I tell you jokes and try to make you smile like I used to. I ask you questions, knowing you always had a knack for knowing what needed to be said. And I give you my opinion on things, knowing you were a good sounding board whether you agreed or disagreed with me. Sometimes I just tell you things because I need to say them and have no one else to tell at that moment. You were always good for that as well.
But I think it’s what you used to teach me that I miss the most. Some of it you said to me, but mostly it was just the way you were. The things you did, the way you did them. I try to be a parent like you and I also try to use what I learned at work. Here’s what I’ve used the most:
Feedback is good, honest feedback is best
You were never one to hold your tongue when something needed to be said. If we did good you praised, when we did bad you were disappointed. When someone did or said something that wasn’t right, you spoke up. You were especially quick to rebut when something someone said or did was unfair or demeaning. You were quick to speak up and defend the person or people. You defended us and you corrected us. And it was never badmouthing or gossiping, you said it to their face. Good managers have their team’s back while always talking to their front.
Do the stuff you have to do, even if you don’t like it
You were not a chef. You weren’t even a cook. But we had dinner on the table every night at 5. It was always good, but it was very simple and was usually designed to clean up fast. I remember dad telling us about the eggs you made him when you first got married. They got cold waiting for the bacon to get done. Bacon made a mess, we didn’t have it very often until we got a microwave. There was also the rice story. We ate rice with everything. I remember hearing you one made enough rice for “Patton’s Army” trying to figure out how to measure it right. There I was in 3rd grade reading an encyclopedia to figure out who the hell Patton was, why he had an army, and what he’d want with that much rice. I had no idea who Betty Crocker was, except that you swore you weren’t her. But we ate a hot meal every night. Good managers know when a task has to be done, and do it.
Love, unconditional love
I did some really dumb stuff. Other people did dumber, I’ll admit that, but I had my share of dumb stuff. And I knew when you were disappointed in me. Damn, that hurt. You didn’t have to say it, I knew. But no matter how dumb a thing I did, or how mad you got at me, I always knew that you loved me. I knew that in the end, whatever you said or did was done to make me better, make me smarter, make me think, make me better. I also knew that no matter how dumb I was, you’d still be there for me. Good managers correct poor behavior, but always support the people who work for them.
Be who you are, and do it proudly
You were your own person. You were a seamstress, an artist, a business owner, a volunteer, and a mom. When you wanted to learn to paint, you did it. When you started exercising you taught the class and then you bought the company. When you decorated something I could tell it was by you. I could always pick out the cookies you made for the PTA (they sure looked a lot like Nutter Butters to me…) and I could see you at graduation even though the stands were full. You were who you were and you didn’t compromise that for anyone. When you were sick and lost your hair, you didn’t want a wig. That made me prouder than anything else because I thought you were awesome that way you were. Good managers don’t hide who they are or change because it’s not “cool,” they are who they are because that’s who got hired.
So happy Mother’s Day. Thanks for the gifts you’ve given me. I wish we could talk about the things you taught me. I know there would be more to learn!
I miss you and love you.