“Grateful is our mindset.”
Today is my mother’s birthday; her name is Josephine. As I reflected on her 79 years of life, I realized she is the person that has taught me the most about gratitude, so, of course, I am going to write about her this week; how could I not?
My mother’s story was like many others that grew up in a small village in Sicily right after World War II. The town was poor, and so were all the people except a select few. My Grandparents did not have a lot, but they had enough to live, and they would remind my mother and her siblings every day that because they had a small house and just enough food to eat every week, they should be grateful.
Gratitude was stressed very often, and so was the belief that God would always help provide for the family as long as everyone kept their faith. This included hard work doing odd jobs since many full-time jobs were unavailable. It also included trading goods or services with others in the village. My grandfather would make olive oils from the few olive trees he owned and trade the oil for milk and cheese.
It was never a lot, but it was always just enough. One day at the young age of 10, my mother landed a job cooking and cleaning for one of the wealthy couples in the village. The pay wasn’t anything to brag about, but it actually made my mother the breadwinner of the home at the age of 10. She would work hard, seven days a week, and give all the money to my grandparents. They used it to help feed the five children and even had enough to eat meat once a week. This was a big deal for them.
When my mom tells me this story, she always reminds me that she had prayed for a way to help because her family was so poor, and she had recently lost her 9-year-old brother to a bad case of the flu with a high fever. Many in the town thought he had died because he was too skinny from not eating enough; this was a popular idea at the time.
My mom also started to believe this and began to pray because she was afraid for her siblings and herself. She knew in her heart that being grateful and praying helped her land that job. She eventually immigrated to the USA at the age of 26 to start a family with my Father. They both wanted a better life for my siblings and me before we were even born. It was their reason for leaving everything behind, and I am grateful.
Growing up, both my parents worked in a factory and earned a decent wage. There were 6 of us in our house, and we never had the extras, but we always had enough. My mom always prayed, always reminded us to be grateful, and would always remind us that if we needed something, she knew God would help provide it.
I remember her saying every single day, “God has us covered.” When I was young, I didn’t understand, but as I got older, I believed. I remember all the layoffs my parents had been through, the bad economy in the late ’70s and early ’80s, and I remember that my mom was the one that would always remind us that everything was going to be okay, and she would lead us in prayer.
I am so grateful for my mom, a girl that only finished 4th grade. She became my hero and the person who is 100% responsible for my work ethic, gratitude, and faith in God to this very day.
I hope you have someone in your life that reminds you or has taught you gratitude, but if you don’t, it’s okay. There are plenty of people just like me who would be happy to coach, mentor, or just talk to you about gratitude because gratitude is an attitude that we love to share.
I am grateful for you, I am grateful to be alive, and I am grateful for the people in my life, like my mom, that have helped bless me, but now it’s time to pass it on to others because that’s what grateful people do! I challenge you to do the same. When I am feeling ungrateful or distant for God, I always say to myself, “Be like Josephine”…(that’s actually the only time I call her that, when I say it to myself). It helps remind me of the example I had and still have and gets me back on track.
Happy Birthday, Mom, and thank you for teaching me to have a grateful heart. I love you, Mom, and I am forever grateful. I know you don’t know exactly what I do or what I am a part of, but I hope I make you proud every day.
Thank you for reading everyone, have a grateful week, be blessed, and remember no matter what you are going through…” God has us covered.”