If the heart of the home is the mom, my siblings and I can never complain about Valentine’s Day (at least about non-romantic applications). We received an enormous, forever heart of love when we were brought into the snuggly baby embraces of our mutual mom, Mary Elizabeth Gannon Schuette.
She wasn’t Snow White, but she did resemble her, not only physically (above) but in cheerfulness, patience, and long-suffering. She had some definite suffering to deal with, including growing up with a severely disabled brother named Frank. Frank wasn’t able to talk, but he was a constant presence of love. She once shared with me that she would pray at night that Frank would be able to talk. Now she is in heaven, and Frank is still on earth, for a bit longer. How awesome will it be when she greets him in heaven, and he can respond with words?!
When mom got married, she carried a bouquet of white daisies. This was an ideal flower choice for mom. Daisies reflect Mary’s purity, innocent nature, and love of simplicity.
Daisies are also never pretentious, overstated, or ostentatious. Daisies are simple and charming in a “happy to blend in quietly with anything” sort of way. Daisies are hardy, drought resistant, and a dream flower for gardeners because they can bloom in almost any situation, like mom.
Mom blossomed and lived and her spirit has never stopped living. Our family will see her again. In fact, everyone will see her, including you, dear reader, because we are all part of the same human family.
I encourage you to find her when you get to heaven. You will love her! Who knows? The two of you may also share a love of wit, dry humor, music, intellectual curiosity, optimism, tender-heartedness, and deep listening skills…
When mom passed away, I was supposed to give a talk at the funeral. But what to say? I knelt down and begged Heavenly Father and mom to help me. I went to sleep and was woken in the morning with an impression clearly sent from heaven.
The impression was only four words-a quote: “Soft front, strong back” I had to go and look it up because even though it seemed like I had read the quote years ago, I hadn’t thought of it at all since.
“Soft front, strong back” means that you are able to face the world with a “soft front” of vulnerability, authenticity, compassion, and confidence because you have a “strong back” that comes from living a life of integrity.
When backs are weak, there is a tendency to be brittle and defensive, as we try to hide weak spines that lack authentic confidence.
Mom was soft and real because her back was as “strong as steel.”
This came from living a life quietly bent on keeping the commandments.
Mom was modest in dress, demeanor, and speech. But underneath that generally calm exterior, there was a lot of hard work going on. Think of a duck on a lake, on a summer day. Think of the fast paddling we can’t see from the shore.
An Olympian can perform and look effortless. But oh! The work that came before that performance.
Mom had worked, Olympian hard, behind the scenes, and way before her children came on the scene, to develop Christlike qualities.
Mom’s “easy daisy persona” was the result of decisions made long, long before, to partner with her Father in heaven in bringing goodness to her world-the world of us. She was really shy! To know her well was pretty special and rare. How blessed were we to be part of her sacred inner circle.
When Heavenly Father wanted her to forgive, she forgave. When He wanted her to be patient, she tried. He never had to ask her to be the peacemaker. She didn’t know any other way to be.
When He wanted her to repent, she repented.
When He wanted to love her family with that enormous heart she never let him down.
My aunt Carol said recently “That woman didn’t have a single mean bone in her body.”
I can bear testimony of this: what looked simple for mom, was not at all simple.
Maybe the daisy explains mom the best. We all saw the lovely flower.
What we couldn’t see were the roots beneath the ground. Those roots were thick and strong and connected unflinchingly to the Master Gardner, Jesus Christ.
Mary’s father Frank Gannon nicknamed Mary “bright eyes”. Her eyes were bright because her countenance was filled with an inner light. You can’t buy that humility-produced light on Amazon or at Ulta.
It took serious resistance of the things of the world to be that humble. But our Olympic mom is still showing us the way. I sort of feel like I am in spiritual Olympics classes 101, but I know she is cheering me on, as she always cheered all of us on, from a special place of grace.
Thanks, mom, for having that soft front, that strong back, and those eyes filled with His light.