Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | June 4, 2009

My Beautiful Mom | B

EPSON039   My beautiful Mom, Frances, passed away on May 30 after a brief but courageous battle with cancer. She was a gift from God and I am so grateful for all that she did to give me and my siblings the best childhood imaginable. She was a living example of a Proverbs 31 woman and made our home the most affirming, stable, and encouraging place in the world. She did not have a cookie-cutter approach to parenting but instead fine-tuned her parenting to best guide each of her children. She carefully monitored the people and things that touched our lives because she understood the power of influence. She kept the lines of communication open so that we would feel comfortable talking with her about anything that concerned us. She was the most beautiful and amazing woman in the world to me. This is my second installment of childhood reflections and lessons I learned from Mom.

Sleeping Bag | Mom enrolled me in Cub Scouts when I was in grade school and helped me work through all of my badges. Later, I was excited to join the Boy Scout because Boy Scouts went on camp-outs. When our troop announced our first camp-out I learned that I needed a sleeping bag. Now, sleeping bags were expensive and a luxury that a family with five kids could not afford. So, Mom called her Mom and together they came up with a solution. They went to Sears and looked at the sleeping bags at the store. But, instead of buying a sleeping bag, which we could not afford, they decided to make me a sleeping bag. My Mom and Grandmother gathered material left over from their sewing projects and made me a sleeping bag in time for my first camp-out. And Mom did this without hurting the family budget. It was a pretty cool-looking and functional sleeping bag. I was never embarrassed to be the only scout in my troop to have a home-made sleeping bag. In fact, I used that sleeping bag through all of my years in Scouting.

Lesson Learned: Mom was resourceful and always found a way to help us. She did not depend on credit cards or rob Peter to pay Paul. She was imaginative and creative and used items we already had to meet unexpected needs.

Trash Day | One Saturday morning while I was watching cartoons, Mom asked me why I had not taken out the trash. I told her that I would do it later. Mom seized on this teachable moment and told me that I needed to show some initiative. “Initiative,” she said, “will help you succeed in life.” I didn’t know the meaning of the word so I asked her, “What’s initiative?” Mom answered in terms I could understand: “Initiative is taking the trash out before you have to be told to do so.” To this day, that is how I remember what the word initiative means. I thought a lot about what Mom had said and determined to start noticing things that needed to be done around the house and doing them before she had to ask me.

Lesson Learned: Mom knew how to communicate important lessons in terms I could understand. She wanted for her children to do the right things and to do kind things for others without having to be told to do so. She encouraged us to look for things that needed to be done and to take the initiative to do them.

The “F” Word | When I was in the fourth grade I heard the big bad “F” word at school for the first time. I did not know what this word meant, but when I got home I used it in a sentence. Mom was in the kitchen and whirled around and looked at me with a totally shocked expression. But, instead of washing my mouth out with soap or spanking me, she looked me in the eyes and calmly asked me where I had learned the word. I told her that I had learned it from my friend Tommy who lived on the next block. “Do you know what this word means,” she calmly asked. “No,” I replied. So she explained to me that this was a word that I should never use again in public or private and why I should not use it. Then she told me to get in the car and we drove to Tommy’s house. Mom spoke to Tommy’s mother about the new word her son had taught me. I don’t know about Tommy, but I did not use that word again and hate the word to this day.

Lesson Learned: Mom understood the value of a good explanation. Instead of punishing me for using a bad word that I did not understand, she helped me to understand why I should not use it. That was enough for me. I’m serious when I tell you that I have not used that word since then.

Ascot -- OmarSpiegel Catalogue | In the days before McAllen had so many shopping centers, Mom used to order our clothes from the Spiegel Catalogue. She would carefully peruse the pages of the catalogue to see what clothing we would need for the school year and then would work the family budget to see what she could afford to order. Mom would take measurements and then order pants and shirts for me for the Fall and Spring semesters of school. She figured that if the clothes looked good on the models in the catalogue, they would look good on her kids. One year the boys section offered a combination of double-knit pants and double-breasted shirts with ascots. Now, not many people we knew could tell you what an ascot was. Long story short — I arrived for my first-day of 7th Grade wearing double knit pants with penny loafers and a double-breasted shirt with a paisley ascot — the fashion equivalent of being the boy named Sue. I looked like Little Lord Fauntleroy. The hard part was that all of my friends were wearing Levi jeans, t-shirts, and PF Flyers. It was a hard first-day of school. I remember that the toughest kid in school came up to me during my first-period class and asked me what in the world I was wearing and what that thing was around my neck. I told him it was an ascot and then asked him if he had one. He said he didn’t but thought it was pretty cool looking. We became friends and no one gave me any trouble.

Lesson Learned: Mom understood that you don’t have to dress like everybody else in order to be accepted. She always wanted for her kids to look nice, but she helped us understand that we should always accept others for who they are and not because of how they dress. By the way, she later added Levi jeans and some PF Flyers to my school wardrobe.

• • • • •

PS | If you have not already done do, please take a moment to read my first post on my Mom entitled My Beautiful Mom | A and my final post entitled My Beautiful Mom | C.


  1. Omar,

    Thanks for opening up and sharing about your Mom. What an incredible woman. She has truly inspired you which has in turn impacted my life.

    I am grateful for you my friend and will continue to pray for you.

  2. Omar,

    Thank you so much for these articles devoted to your Mother – they are beautiful as she so clearly was as well.

    I’m so sorry to hear of your loss, and also very touched at the wonderful way your sorrow is painted with the joy you possess because of your Mother’s love.

    God Bless

  3. Herschel and Chad…

    Thanks so much for your kind comments and condolences.


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