Tiny Gestures. Big Impact.
As Mother’s Day approaches, my mom keeps coming to my heart center. It’s been 20 years since she passed on and still stories about her thrill me to no end. They all remind me that one of the greatest gifts we can give to anyone is the gift of our true authentic selves. My mom’s name was Jean and she was a people person, a philanthropist and an avid lover of the environment.
As time has shown me, she kept a lot of what she did for others to herself. It wasn’t until after her transition… and I mean years after, that I learned about some simple yet grand things she did for others. Maybe to her, they were simply “the right thing to do.” To the recipients, however, the tiny gestures had a big impact. As I recall stories of her kindness to others, I feel super proud that she was my mom.
Call Her for No Reason at All or For Every Reason You Can Think Of
I’ve accepted, mostly, that she’s no longer here with me. I can’t have that hug any more, or literally hear her words and thoughts on things. So, I now celebrate her in different ways, like my writing. That’s one way I share my love and appreciation for her.
I wonder if you’re one of those people who will be celebrating your mom in your memories like me or in person. I wonder if this post will encourage you to truly celebrate your mom if she’s still with you in physical form.
I hope you take a moment to listen to her stories, take her out, bring her roses or one single rose. Call her for no reason at all or for every reason you can think of.
There are likely very kind gestures she did that she may have never shared with you. There are things she sacrificed so you could have food, something to wear or just so you could have peace of mind. Priceless.
For the rest of us who have to celebrate our moms through memories, I hope you have many fond ones of your mom. I hope that sweet stories about her find you in the most delightful ways.
For now, I’d like to share a few sweet stories of my mom – kind gestures she did that impacted others that she never told me about.
The Lab Technician
The first story I heard about my mom after her passing, was shortly after my son was born. I went to do a blood test. The lab technician opened the door and called out my name. “Jeannie Shaw?” he beckoned. “Yes. that’s me.”, I responded. “Follow me.” he uttered and gestured with his hand.
“Come this way and have a seat.” He started to organize himself to extract blood from me. I sat silently as he swiveled from left to right in his white coat, fully concentrated on swabs, needles and vials. Most labs have this feeling of simplicity. They remind me of sharp edges, coldness, distinct beginnings and endings. Not much emotion. Not much feeling other than the pinch of the needle. But this lab was about to get warm and cozy.
Ready. Set. Go.
He was ready. All items were secure and in their place. Now all I had to do was close my eyes and turn my head the opposite direction while he withdrew that life sustaining beautiful red flow of magic from my body.
As he began to wrap the rubbery band around my right arm, his focus seemed to drift away and back to me. “Hmm, Jeannie Shaw… are you related to Jean Shaw?”, he asked. It was as if in the silence, information was slowly coming together for him… like pieces of a puzzle he was snapping into place in his mind.
“Yes, I am.” I responded proudly. “She was my mom.”
He froze. “No way.” he said with this look of shock on his face.
“Yu dah Ms Jean daata?”, he asked to confirm.
“Please, may I give you a hug?”, he asked.
“Haha, sure I guess.” I said wondering what in the awkward moments is going on right ‘chere.
(said in my best Jess Hilarious voice)
I stood up and he gave me a long, warm hug.
“Your mom was a darling of a woman.” he continued. “I was studying in Guatemala and I came home one weekend and couldn’t find my dad. I went to her hotel to see if she could help me. He would sometimes go into remote areas for work and no one could reach him until he came back out.”
“Ms Jean, my dad had no idea I was coming in today and I thought I’d be able to surprise him. I just thought maybe you might know where he is. I needed to get some money from him.” he went on with his story.
“Your mom was so happy to see me. She asked me how much money I needed and I told her. She went into a little room in the back and came out with more than enough.” he said. She said to him, “Here, take this. I will collect from your dad when I see him.” he continued telling the story, smiling.
Blessings Follow Your Children
“I’ll never forget that.” he continued. “I needed help and she didn’t hesitate. It meant so much to me. To know you are her daughter, and that I can hug you as a way to say thank you to her for being so kind and trusting is so nice.” he said as he smiled at me.
I thought to myself… wow this is a prime example of how blessings follow your children. Here I was getting hugs and thank you’s just for being Ms Jean’s daughter.
Such a simple gesture that went a long way.
One of the things I most admired about my mom was the fact that she never boasted or bragged about people she helped. In many cases you had to either be there or be a part of it. Otherwise you’d never know how she loved helping people.
It was the first of many moments where someone would tell me about her kindness to them. If it wasn’t a direct story from someone, it would be a story where she impacted something else. She left people feeling good, smiling and taken care of.
Stella Maris School
One day as my aunt, Tia Jen, and I were talking about my dream to one day write a book, she mentioned my mom. “You really should write a book about your mom, Jeannie.” said Tia Jen. “Lemme tell you one thing you could include in your book gyal.”, she continued.
Your mom was always trying to help someone or some group and I can tell you specifically how she helped Stella Maris School in Belize City.
Stella Maris School is a school for children with special needs in Belize.
“Girl, she had some simple ashtrays made from bamboo and under it, she wrote “Stolen from Bamboo Bay”. Bamboo Bay was a small bar my mom ran for her dad, Raymond Weir. It was quite popular in those days.
All she asked for was donations. The patrons of Bamboo Bay could then give whatever amount they felt comfortable giving.” she continued. “But girl, lemme tell you if the donation was too meager, your mom would leave her hand out,” she said laughing, “and they would put more.” Tia Jen said with glee on her face.
“Another thing she did had to do with an albino catfish.” she kept going on. “There was one albino catfish in the river and the tourists would stand there and wait for the fish to show his face. So Jean had a big spotlight installed on the verandah by the river. She’d then sell stale bread to the tourists in little bags. They’d all stand over the water’s edge and start throwing the bread in the river.” she continued.
The thrill of the moment was only if the albino presented himself to the onlookers. It was one of the highlights of the venue. There was no Instagram or Facebook to capture every moment but this memory was so clear to my aunt still. It was like having digital snapshots in her mind of a time more than 4 decades ago, as if it happened yesterday.
“She’d then donate any monies earned from the ashtrays and the catfish to Stella Maris School.” she said proudly. “I don’t recall the connection she had there or why she chose that school but it was her little way to give back.” she said.
“Wow, Tia, I love this story about my mom. She never told me any of this. She truly was phenomenal.”, I said to her.
You Need Help? l’m Here.
“Yes, gyal she was. Make sure you mention my name in your book, you hear me Jeannie?” she jokingly tugged at me. “You know how to spell my name, right?” she asked. “Yes. T I A Jen.” I said.
“Hahaha,” she laughed.
We parted ways and I went on my evening walk.
“What a wonderful woman I had the chance to call my mom.”, I thought.
We’d had our moments over the years – the usual mother/daughter bickering stuff but as time went on, it did get better. It was mostly good. It was always support and I was mostly thankful. But I am human. I had my moments.
Sometimes memories of her flutter around me like butterflies. Other times, I am so caught up in life and all its goings ons that maybe I don’t remember her as much. It took 10 years to be ok with her transitioning and 10 more years to reach the point of sometimes not remembering her as much as I used to.
There are moments though that we never forget… This quote from Maya Angelou makes me think of my mom. For the lab technician, it wasn’t about the money, even though it was needed.
It was that she trusted him, trusted his father and just wanted to help. You need help? I’m here. That’s what he was truly thankful for – he felt safe. He was ok. He found someone to help him.
The Final Flight
December 1st, 1999, my mom and I left Belize on our way to Guatemala City. Little did I know it was the last of the few days I’d have left with her. We talked from one thing to the next on the plane and she was sharing with me little anecdotes about people she felt were so good to her.
These were some of the people that she would never forget how they made her feel. They made her feel loved.
“I love Mikey, you know. He really treats me so good. I can call him any time to do anything and he’s always willing.” she said. I smiled because I knew it was true. He loved her dearly and was indeed always willing to help her. Mikey is a friend who became like family to us. My mom embraced our friends so just about everyone would become like family but some were extra special. Mikey lived down the street at the corner and was only one phone call away at any given time. He is one of many of her “adopted sons” but for this moment she was giving him some serious props.
She went on switching to another person she was appreciating in the moment. “You know Mark could run the whole hotel – from top to bottom. He can do rooms, front desk, accounting… I tell you!” She was talking about Mark Bowman with so much appreciation for the qualities he brought to her business. He worked with my mom and in truth could run the entire operation on his own. He could cook, serve, tend the bar, clean a room to the highest quality and just about all administrative stuff that presented itself.
“Yes mommy, it’s true.” I agreed, listening to her go on and on.
“Oh but Jeannie, that Bridget…” she continued.
She was talking about Bridget Taylor. Bridget attended to all laundry at the hotel. She’d been working at the hotel for about 10 years at the time. My mom trusted her 100% and always wanted Bridget to know how appreciated she was. “See the cut on my foot from when I fell down?” she asked me.
I looked down as she lifted her pants up for me to see the cut.
“Look how nicely it’s healing up.”, she said. “That’s because Bridget took care of it. She always takes care of me. I appreciate her so much.” she said smiling as we continued flowing from one subject to the next.
It was as if her spirit wanted me to know some specific stories about some of the very special people she treasured.
I had no idea it would be the last of our conversations in this realm. I only knew we were going to Guatemala and would be back in Belize City a few days later. It was not to be. My mom passed away the following Monday, December 6th, 1999.
Bridget continued working for the hotel until she reached 22 years of service. She had taken care of a slew of visitors from all over the world… and she’d taken care of our entire family and most importantly to me, she’d taken care of my mom.
Bridget Taylor enjoying an easy evening with Belizean musician, Paul Nabor.
That Was My Friend
Bridget called me this week and we got to talking from one thing to the next. I reminded her of the cut on my mom’s foot. She sadly recalled the week my mom passed and how it affected her. Bridget’s father passed away the Monday before. It was a lot for her.
Bridget reminded me of some things she went through in her life when she first started working at the hotel. She’d been experiencing some hardships in her personal life that lead to her to some sleepless nights. She would go to work feeling tired, her eyes red from lack of sleep and her body exhausted.
“Bridget, you didn’t get any sleep?”, my mom asked her. “No mam.”, she responded. My mom shared with her she hadn’t slept either. Plagued with her own personal hardships, she was also struggling through her days with minimal rest and loads of stress.
“Bridget, take the key to any room that’s available and you go sleep.” my mom told her. “When you feel rested, come down and then do whatever work you can do for today.” my mom told her.
“Jeannie, we used to sit on that verandah and just talk from one thing to the next. That was my friend. That’s why when she told me she fell down and showed me her cut, I took care of her. She was my friend.” Bridget continued.
“She said the cut was healing but I could see it was not healing properly and I knew how to fix that.” Bridget said proudly. Their endless conversations, little inside secrets and looking out for each other stretched across time, space and dimension. The line between employer and employee was virtually non-existent. Instead, it was just two women who knew each others’ plight and worked together daily to accomplish a smoothly running hotel with fresh white linen.
Bridget felt like she was blessed to have someone who cared more about her being ok than if the sheets were cleaned. And my mom felt blessed to have someone who cared more about the cut on her foot than getting paid for clean linen.
There’s a saying in Belize – maybe it’s universal.
Hand Wash Hand
You never know how the kindness you offer to those around you will affect them. Among the many things you think to leave for your children, leave a legacy of beautiful stories. Leave a legacy of your highest vibration – that you were good to people. That you genuinely cared to see other people get ahead. Leave a legacy of being a philanthropist.
These are just some of the stories I can share about my mom.
I’ve been upgraded to first class, moved up in a bank line, given hugs, written the sweetest of random messages and many more things all for the kindness of Ms Jean. And 20 years later, they still find me. What a blessing.
There are things your mom has done or is doing for others right now. Maybe she’s not telling you. Maybe in the grand scheme of things, they seem minute but it’s very possible they are GRAND. Celebrate your mom as often as you can… listen to her story. Nourish Her Sweetly today and everyday.
And if and when she leaves this earthly realm, I hope many more stories of her kindness finds you to brighten your life.
I’d love to hear a story about your mom, whether she’s still here on this earthly plane or fluttering around you in the spirit world. Tell me.