Sylvia: Music, Forgiveness and So Much More . . .

This month, we are paying tribute to our moms. In many ways, in-home care is about celebrating our elders and what they’ve done in life and continue to do for us, for others and for their communities. More often than not, our mothers play a significant role in how we view the world. We thought that sharing how they’ve helped members of the Midnight Sun Home Care community would be a fun way to honor them. 

Today, Kevin Turkington, Owner of MSHC, talks about his mother, Sylvia:

My mother will be 80 this year, and she is a stubborn, independent woman with a strong network of people around her. She still lives in a Victorian home that she purchased on Whidbey Island in the 80s.  When I think about it, her independence is a central theme in her life and has been the source of much inspiration for me.

My parents divorced when I was 21 years old. I was shocked, because, of course, when we are young, we think that our parents will always be together and live forever. For my mother, this meant that she was put into a place of independence she’d never known. Up until that point, she’d been a typical housewife of her generation and she didn’t really know how to survive on her own. It was so overwhelming to her that she actually attempted to take her own life. Thankfully, she did not succeed, but we all learned a lot from that time in our lives and watching her—with her sense of pride, independence and stick-to-itiveness—seeing her work through that and come out shining on the other side of it was a huge lesson. She worked through the divorce and eventually bought her own home, among other successes.

But, her independent spirit showed itself before that time and in other ways. One thing that she imparted to me early on was her love of music. She is a very creative woman; a craftsperson, quilter, you name it. I didn’t have a lot of those skills but she really did encourage me to get involved in music. She encouraged me to take band in elementary school and exposed me to all types of music; not just what was popular among teens at the time. We listened to symphonies, country, blues—all of it. I got a really good taste for it.

What still stands out for me though is when she bought me my very first album. It was my birthday in 1973, and it was one of Elton John’s original releases. Keep in mind that at that time, it was pretty unheard of for a parent to buy their kids a rock and roll album.  The fact that she did that for me really speaks to how much she values music, but also how much of an independent thinker she is.

On another birthday, she handmade me a calligraphy plaque (she was really good at it) that said,

Music Washes Away from the Soul the Dust of Everyday Life

The plaque was damaged a few years back and I no longer have it, but it’s written in my soul, all because of her.

Like many of us, I’ve gone through a journey with my mother—learning to view her as herself, not just through the lens of her role as mom. I ran away from home when I was a teen, in part because I had a strong belief that my mother didn’t care about me or want me.  During that time, I was involved in an accident that left me severely burned. It happened on Thanksgiving Day, which also happened to be my mother’s birthday. When it happened, I thought that it would damage our relationship beyond repair. Instead, my mother gave me nothing but love and forgiveness and expressed gratefulness that I survived.  That truly helped me to learn forgiveness and gain an understanding of unconditional love.

Perhaps one of the most profound things that I’ve learned from my mother came when I was around 36.  It was the first time I felt like I had an adult conversation with her. She was able to explain to me her perspective on our lives together—her marriage to my father, our move to Alaska, all of it. I actually understood her as an adult. How many kids get to do that with their parents? It was like I grew up and woke up and we were on an equal level. She shared with me like I was her friend.

What did that do for me? It taught me about empathy. Her willingness to talk with me like that was something that my father never did. It showed me how to take her off the pedestal, to understand better how to set myself aside and see her for who she is, with all her hopes and dreams and disappointments.  I learned to see her the way I want to be seen, as a whole person.

I’ve learned a lot from my mother, and I continue to learn from her.  She insists on her independence to this day. She already knows what assisted living home she wants to go to and she will dictate when that is. She is adamant about it.

Part of that is difficult for me, because my business is in-home care but in her own way, she is living up to our motto: “Helping Families Remain Families”
She wants her kids to always be her kids and it’s that stubborn independence that will make sure that happens.
Thanks, Mom.

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