The following post is modified from a talk my mother gave on Mother’s Day in 1996. It is about my Mexican grandmother, Guelita, and all the service she has rendered throughout her lifetime. The black and white photos are from my cousin Allison who has access to these and scanned them in to share with family far away, like me.
“In Singapore, the cultural tradition has long been for a bride to present her mother with a decorated basket filled with gifts she has learned in her mother’s home: a bit of handwork, a thing of beauty, a delicate morsel, paintings or poetry, a symbolic witness of God.” (Elaine Cannon, Mothering, pg. 10)
What a beautiful tradition! When I first read about this tradition my mind immediately started to make a mental list of what gifts I would include in a basket for my own mother. So on this special Sunday may I share with you what I would include in my basket. I feel honored and blessed to have my mother here with me. And so it is that I present my basket “para mi mama,” for my mother.
In my basket there would be a bowl of the most delicious looking cherries you have seen. In Moses 5:1 we read: “And it came to pass that after I, the Lord God, had driven them out, that Adam began to till the earth, and to have dominion over all the beasts of the field, and to eat his bread by the sweat of his brow, as I the Lord commanded him. And Eve, also, his wife, did labor with him.”
|Hermila & Samuel|
From my mother I have learned the importance of laboring next to my husband, of working with him. As a little girl I remember playing at the bottom of a ladder and looking up to see my mother up high on that ladder picking cherries. My dad was not too far away on another ladder. I have seen my mother on her hands and knees as she has picked strawberries in rows that to a little girl seemed to go on and on. I’ve seen her carrying bushels of string beans to be weighed or have a hoe in her hand to “weed out” the sugar beets. I have seen her working with my father many long hours making hundreds of tortillas at a time, enchiladas, and many other foods needed at the restaurant. Long have been the hours she has worked with my father, helping him provide for our family as we were growing up.
Next in my mother’s basket I would place a statue of “A Woman Kneeling in Prayer.” It was from my mother and father, both, that I learned the importance of prayer and exercising faith.
I was taught at an early age to pray as we would be called into the front room to kneel in family prayer. To have faith that the Lord would provide us with those material things that were needed as great sacrifices were made to support my brothers who were serving missions at the same time. I was taught to have faith when as an 18 year old I saw my mother sitting in the front row of the chapel with my brothers at her side giving comfort at the funeral service of my 13 year old brother. I was taught to have faith as the funeral procession drove by our home, on the way to the cemetery, so that my father and sister who were laying in bed and could not move because of injuries, could participate in some way in the funeral of their son and brother.
I have been taught to pray for comfort as I would pray for my mother and father while they served as missionaries in Spain. While in Spain they received word that my father’s last two living brothers had passed away within a week of each other. And then the following week were notified that my sister-in-law had died of cancer.
May we mothers continue in faith, being an example of the believers that someday our children may be told like Timothy was by Paul: “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in they grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.” (2 Timothy 1:5)
The next gift in my basket would be the nicest copy of the quadruple combination, all four sets of scriptures in one. Along with it I would put a niece red juicy apple, a pencil, and a ruler. I would give it to the teacher that has influenced my life the most, my mother. She has taught me to read and write in Spanish. She has taught me to love the scriptures. As a little girl we would gather as a family and read from the Book of Mormon. I was taught to
“….feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.” (2 Nephi 32:3)
My mother’s home has been her classroom. She loves to teach. She went to school to learn how to be a teacher. Is it any wonder that I also love to teach! I have seen my mother prepare her lessons with great care. The greatest lessons she has ever taught though have been to her own children. The most challenging students she has ever had have been her own children. No matter how tired she would be from working long hours she always seemed to find the time to pull out those pencils and books. Though each of her students are now considered responsible adults she still continues to teach us.
I can say like Helaman did of his stripling warriors: “. . . yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying; We did not doubt our mothers knew it.”
Next in my mother’s basket I would include a rose. She has taught me to take some time to “smell the roses.” To take time to ponder and reflect on how blessed we are ti live in such a beautiful world that has been created for us. I’m grateful for the gift of beauty which surround us daily that my mother has taught me. Always in our home were plants of all sizes which she would water with care. There were rosebuds outside, petunias and other flowers in big huge flower pots. It did not matter where we lived. Always there have been plants around. Yesterday as we were sitting around our kitchen table talking there were three beautiful roses. We were busy smelling them and talking. Once more I was taking time to “smell the roses.”
One other gift that I would include in my basket would be a tape of the Tabernacle Choir singing, “Oh My Father.” When I was in fourth grade I wanted to learn how to play an instrument. I wanted to learn how to play the violin. I was taught to love music. Though neither of my parents played an instrument they allowed me to learn. They paid for private lessons and even purchased a violin for me. Though my violin playing was very squeaky and my brothers couldn’t stand it, my mother and father both kept encouraging me to practice. They also taught me to sing in family home evening. It didn’t matter that I was not singing the right notes. What mattered was that I sang and praised God thru singing. That same legacy of music that has been instilled in me, both Peter and I have tried to instill in our children, for he also, was given the gift of music by his mother.
In D&C 25:12 we read: “For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.”
When Mothers Sing
When mothers sing the home is sweet,
And peace and joy abound;
Troubles seem to fade away,
Before this happy sound.
Children smile and bay coos
And Dad forgets his care;
Faith and hope and harmony
Dwell securely there.
Singing mothers everywhere,
Patient, tender, strong,
Send to heaven this daily prayer—
“Lord make my life a song.”
To my mother once more I would say, “Gracias, thank-you, for the gift of music in my life. For instilling in me a desire to sing, to learn to play my violin, and now to learn to play the piano.”
Next into my basket would be a thimble, needle and thread, with some material for my mother. My mother is quite an accomplished seamstress. I have been the recipient of her sewing talents. Our home is filled with quilts, curtains, and dresses that my mother has made for us. As a little girl she always sewed our dresses. Not only would she sew dresses for us but also for our dolls. They were just like ours that she made!
|My mother, her brother, and her sister – they danced in a Folklorico group. My grandmother helped to sew many of their costumes.|
My mother’s hands have always kept busy sewing a dress or quilting. On our family wall in our home where many of our pictures hang is a frame with this on it:
FAMILIES ARE LIKE QUILTS
Lives pieced together,
Stitched with smiles and tears,
Colored with memories,
And bound with love.
To my mother, I thank her for those loving memories of late hours spent sewing for me, whether it was a dress for my doll, a wedding dress for me, or a quilt.
The last gift I would put in my basket for my mother would be a new pair of shoes to honor those feet that have walked all over giving service to my brothers and sisters, myself and others. Her feet have taken her places where cars could not travel. Her feet have taken her to far off countries where she served as a missionary alongside my father. Her feet have taken her to visit the sick, to give comfort to others. Her feet have taken her into homes where she shared the gospel. But her feet especially have taken her into the walls of the temples where she has spent many hours serving and doing work for our ancestors. Her feet have taken her to the temple where she has witnessed the marriages of 6 of her own children and two granddaughters (there have been many more since this was written). Though her feet might be moving a lot slower then when I was a toddler, I still have to move double time to keep up with her feet.
She has taught me to never stop giving of myself through service. Her life has been just like King Benjamin taught in Mosiah 2:17: “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that yea may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God.”
|Guelita making tamales. She loads her freezer with tortillas and tamales to give to visitors.|
I honor her this day. Thank-you for all you have done for me. For your example of what it truly means to be a Mother in Zion.
In closing I leave to all mothers present the words of President Spencer W. Kimball which he spoke in a dedicatory prayer of the remodeled temple in St. George back in November of 1975.
“We ask again thy blessing on the women in all the land, that they may accomplish the measure of their creation as daughters of God, Thy offspring. Let the blessings of Sarah, Huldah, Hannah, Anna, and Mary the mother of the Son of God, bless these women to fulfill their duties as did Mary. . . and let the power and satisfactions of the prophetesses and holy women rest upon these mothers as they move forward to fulfill their destinies.”
I bear testimony this day of the greatest work we women can do which is fulfilling our responsibilities as mothers.