Mom was a very courageous woman. While saddled with disabilities her whole life (chronic asthma and chronic diabetes), she still managed to “stay with the crowd” and raise her eight children the best she can – in spite of it all.
On many, many times over the years, I witnessed the strength she showed in both words and deeds – and nothing came easy to her. Regardless of the circumstances, she made the best of it. In her limited ways (also a brutal husband controlling her), she always created an environment of safety and care.
What I remember and admire most about Mom was the way she was able to “take on” risk with such ease and confidence. She lived without fear. (For a woman, she had a lot of balls!)
I remember asking her when I was a teenager about her viewpoint on Risk. I don’t remember the exact circumstances to bring it up; but I remember she defended someone in the family (against some institution) and rose to the occasion.
I was in awe.
For the first time, I witnessed the power of her words and the strength in her actions. I finally realized and experienced the courage she displayed in doing so.
Shortly afterwards, I asked (not exactly in these words) if she was afraid to take that risk. I know I was scared as heck.
Well, Mom had a vocabulary that was a little fractured – but very understandable in any language. Not shy to use ‘colourful metaphors’ when angered, she told me in her unique way of her philosophy regarding character:
“I don’t care what people think of me –
as long as I can hold my head high in integrity.”
Her response was ground-breaking for me. I didn’t realize before character and dignity could be related. I always thought dignity was controlled by the actions of our character; and if we did things that were un-liked by others, then we were to be shamed. Then this lesson.
That empowering personal lesson stays with me today. In every act I perform in life, I not only ensure my dignity remains intact; but I also advocate it for others.
The lesson I learned that day:
Healthy dignity (our self-esteem) is a right to everyone. Nobody can or has the right to take it away from us.