Mar 14, 2009

What My Mother Taught Me

By Christine Thackeray

The theme in Primary this month is on the Family. For sharing time they invited me and a few other mothers to stand behind a curtain and then asked us questions like on the dating game to see if the children could guess which mother we were. At the end as we walked out and exposed our true identities we were each asked one more question. Mine was what did your mother teach you?

My mother was a great woman. She raised twelve children, was constantly serving and wrote books as a hobby. She had twelve published with four being national releases. My mother passed away last year. My mind raced to try to choose which of the many things I'd share with the Primary but looking at their smiling faces, it was clear. My mother taught me to love children. She revelled in their beauty and the thrill of old things new in their eyes. She loved watching the emerging of personality and how small moments were made huge. She loved to hug and comfort and direct. She loved children and I love children, too.

A few days later I went to knew beginnings with my two daughters. I have an eleven year old who is so excited to turn twelve and a sixteen year old who is so excited about everything. The leaders had asked a number of women to stand and talk about their past mutual experience. One woman did an incredible job. She went through the history of the program as it had changed and showed the old bandelo's where you got a diamond stud for each article of faith learned. She talked about the busy bees and the M&M Gleaners which sounds like candy. She came from a less active family and said how it was the young women's program that made her decide that she wanted to marry someone who would take her to the temple, which she did and has a beautiful family of valient children as a result. She ended by reading a poem that spoke of the importance of sharing compliments. Of telling someone when they did well on a talk or that you liked what they were wearing.

That was another thing my mother taught me. Mother gave the best compliments. They were always specific and heartfelt. In her later years I came home to visit and after church it was almost comical to watch her say goodbye for far longer than anyone else, telling each person who had participated what she liked about their leasson and approaching everyone she knew who was struggling to see how they were doing. It was exhausting but beautiful at the same time. Too often I don't say the positive things I really think.

The last thing my mother taught me was how to tell a good story. When we went on family vacations we often would ask my mother to tell a story. Her tales of knights and castles or more contemporary dilemnas of girls trying to find their place in the world would take up hours, many times half the trip and we would be enthralled the entire way. Once I asked her how she did it. She said that when she began a story she had a clear concept of what she wanted you to feel with the last sentence and every word she spoke was designed to bring you there.

Oftentimes when I get stuck on a chapter with the bane of writer's block, it's because I've lost sight of my goal- how the reader feels with that last sentence. Invariably, when I work with a clear goal in mind, I write better.

Now, if I was a great writer I'd have some quippy sentence that would pull this all together in a bow, but I don't. I guess I just wanted to acknowledge that when we have people like my mother and sweet Marsha Ward who drives so many parts of ANWA and people like Liz Adair who share their talents so openly, it makes a huge difference in everything we do and I, for one, am truly grateful.


  1. Brava, Christine! What a beautiful tribute to your mother and to these great woman who lead the way for us. Thank you for sharing these sweet and tender memories. I second your acknowledgment of these fine ladies!

  2. I love mothers. I love being a mother. Your mother sounds wonderful. How blessed we are to have mothers. I only hope my own children will someday feel this way. A couple of my children have all the answers right now, and according to them, I am just out to lunch. I laugh about it with my own Mom, as she shares with me how I did the same and to be patient, it is all a part of becoming indepent. I will wait it out until I become smart again to my children. Thanks for the lovely tribute to you mother.

  3. Oh Christine how your tribute to your mother rings with such wonderment. I say that because although my mom is just as terrific as yours I have known other moms who fell well short of the mark for whatever reason...and the lasting damage to their children was markeded. It truly is the most important job you do.

  4. Writing about the things and people that matter most validates them and gives them a staying power not available without the written word. Thanks for sharing someone that matters most to you.

    And when I write I'll try to do better about having the end feeling in mind from the beginning!


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