I had coffee with a friend yesterday, someone I haven’t sat down and talked with for a few months. She asked me a lot of questions about this process, how I feel about it now, how it’s changed me, what I was feeling about my mother.

About my mother? Mostly, I am missing her. As difficult as it was, especially toward the end, I miss calling her every day. I miss knowing I could almost always get a smile out of her with some of Louise’s homemade brownies or cookies. “Mmmmm,” she’d say. “Good.” She always nodded “yes” when I asked if she wanted me to make her a cup of tea. I used the same cup every time, one that she liked because it stayed warm for a long time. She would hold the cup in both hands while the tea cooled, then gulp it down like she was dying of thirst. I began to think she bore a startling resemblance to the owl on the cup.

Gina's tea cup

I miss the woman from before, as well – the strong, capable and beautiful woman who mothered me as best she could, and taught me, somehow, that I could do anything I set my mind to. Most of the time, I feel pretty good about who I am. While I can trace the most troublesome aspects of my being back to her, I also see that much of the good started with my mother as well.

I told my friend I do feel changed. When I started giving away $100 bills, I hoped to reset my brain and shake off some of the miserly habits that clung to me like old rags. It’s happening, in fits and starts. I find myself worrying less about money. I am able to see more clearly the difference between frugality and cheapness. Frugal: going out for Happy Hour. Cheap: leaving a crappy tip. Frugal: stocking up on my favorite brand of laundry detergent when it’s on sale. Cheap: driving across town to save 3¢ per gallon on gas. I’m starting to get it!

Anyway, I was a few minutes early for my coffee date and decided to walk around a bit. A MAX train was arriving just as I crossed the street, and I watched the people getting off. A young woman caught my eye. She stepped off the platform with a purposeful stride, wriggled into her backpack and started up the street. There was an openness about her, but she seemed strong rather than vulnerable. Solid. She ducked into Starbucks and I followed. I heard her order a grande white chocolate mocha. A familiar voice inside me wondered, “Four dollars to spare for coffee?” But I was really pleased to hear a louder voice that said, “Cool. I bet she’ll enjoy that.”

A couple of other people came into the shop and I stepped outside to wait. I saw the young woman getting her headphones out of her backpack, untangling them while balancing her coffee cup. As she walked by I said hi. “Is it okay if I talk with you for a minute?” She looked me in the eye and said it was. I asked if she was headed home and she said she was going to work. At a dog groomer’s. “Oh, that’s gotta be really hard!” I said. (It would be torture for me. Not much smells worse than a wet dog.) She smiled. “I work the desk, it’s okay.” Close up, I saw that she was younger than I had realized.

“I’m honoring my mother today”, I said. “I’d like to give you something.” Her eyes flew open. “Oh! I read about you in the newspaper! We did a whole unit on this in my class at Grant!” I gave her the C-note and we laughed. She said her high school accounting class had done a unit on generosity. She never expected this to happen!

Her name was Makaila. She said I could take her picture and write about her on the blog. She was all smiles. Wait till the class hears about this!

Perfect. My mother would love being at the heart of this journey.


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7 Responses to Reflections, With Makaila

  1. DJan says:

    Wow, you are really getting well known out there! And what a wonderful smile Makaila has. I also am aware of the differences between frugal and cheap, but my challenge is between essential and frivolous. We all have our money issues, it seems. Sure am glad to be one of your admirers.

  2. Pru McDonald says:

    Another lovely story, filled with insight and revelation! I love following your mind as you track your feelings and actions by introspection… such a valuable tool in learning about ourselves, the character clues that serve to keep us on our toes, and promote spiritual growth. Watching you grow has given me much insight into my own growth, reluctant as it may sometimes be!
    Hugs, Pru

  3. Amy says:

    Your touching so many lives with your generosity. Think of how inspired all the kids in her class will be!

  4. Steph says:

    I admire your courage in sharing your personal growth on a public forum where we all can benefit. I like where this is going.
    Again, thank you.

  5. andrea gehrke says:

    How remarkable is this that you are now part of a course curriculum being taught in school! You are reaching so many through your mother and in her honor. I love how Maya Angelou says we are all teachers. What you are teaching now is the gift of generosity, openness to others and the glory of the dance of life.

  6. Jill Ginsberg says:

    Andrea- My mother would love this!! Best wishes- Jill

  7. Scott says:

    My Mom would also enjoy this soooo much.
    I am so glad someone else does this too.
    And 364 times more a year than me.
    We can not all do this every day but if
    most of us did this at least once a year????
    What a difference it could make.

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