She had the music in her

Me an Mom, circa 1973
Me an Mom, circa 1973

Today would have been my mom’s 80th birthday. The title of this post comes from a song that’s been stuck in my head today as I’m remembering the gift my mom was in my life and to the world–“You Get What You Give” by the New Radicals.

You’ve got the music in you
Don’t let go
You’ve got the music in you
One dance left
This world is gonna pull through
Don’t give up
You’ve got a reason to live
Can’t forget you only get what you give

It’s a wee bit ironic, because my Mom was basically tone deaf in the musical sense. But she was very in tune with the needs of the world around her, from her own family, to her local community, to our wounded world. She was in tune with the gifts that God had given her and she shared them with a big heart and a belief that things could be better.

My mom raised five children and made it very clear to us that we are supposed to work to make the world a better place, in whatever ways we can.  She loved being a grandmother and how her own kids passed on the dream of a better world.

My mom cared for her own parents through great sacrifice. She modeled the power of presence.

My mom was an equal partner with my Dad, both at home and in the wider world where they were community builders and active participants on behalf of the common good.

My mom campaigned for justice, advocated for the needs of people who were poor, worked on Capitol Hill to help constituents access government resources, and accompanied men and women in prison so that they could rebuild their lives after their release.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over eleven years since she died. A lot has happened in my own life since then, including the decision to become a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace. Yet I feel her presence and know that she is smiling about the many and varied ways her kids have grown, changed, and done their best to make the world a better place.

In the words of the song that’s stuck in my head as I remember her (not that she would have liked the song, especially not the few “bad” words):

“You’ll be ok follow your heart.”

A wonderful lesson that I learned from my mom’s life, witness, and love.

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