My mom gave me many things. She gave me an unwavering confidence. She gave me joy in the face of disaster. She gave me a love for the silly. But one of the things I treasure the most is she instilled in me a love of words.
I have very fond memories as a young child of my mom using “big” words. When I would ask, “What does that mean?”, she would respond with a playful tone. “Let’s look it up?” And we would pull out our dictionary, (even before I could read) and look up the word.
My mom often told me that words were power. She taught me that you had to choose your words carefully. She told me to think of words like tools. The more words I knew, the more tools I would have to build whatever I wanted or needed.
When I was about 6 or 7, I learned in school about a book that could give you synonyms. It was similar to a dictionary and though I could not remember what the book was called, I told my mom, “It sounds like the name of a dinosaur.” I had to have one. So Mom loaded me up into the car and off we went on our dinosaur hunt. (I might have cried and whined a bit about how much I needed one.) At the first store we went too, a young man in shirt and tie tried to help us. “She needs a book that’s like a dictionary with words and definitions in it”, Mom told the young man. So he showed us dictionaries. “No, I need one that sounds like a dinosaur.” He scratched his head. I thought he was not so smart. How could he not know about this great book? Undaunted, Mom and I headed to store after store until finally an older gentleman nodded knowingly and smiled at me. Are you looking for a thesaurus? Yes! That’s it! That’s my dinosaur.
I loved my dinosaur book. Back then we didn’t carry backpacks, and as I was a vociferous reader, I would carry a stack of books with me most everywhere I went. I carried my thesaurus for years, until it was finally worn out. Even today, thesaurus.com is in my favorites.
When I got to Jr High, we had to pick a career we would like, research it, and do a report about it. I wanted to be an etymologist. A person who studied words and the origins of words.
Mom didn’t have much formal education. She didn’t grow up in a family that encouraged her intelligence. She was told as a young girl to not be smart, because boys don’t like smart girls. She was told by her Dad that she was stupid. She did not have confidence in herself. And yet, in fact, she was very smart. My guess is that she had a very high IQ. She did her crossword puzzles in ink every day. Somehow she managed to give me the thing she never had, the confidence to believe in myself, that I could do or be anything that I desired. And even though she did pass on her advice to me about not letting boys know you are smarter than them, I rejected that an early age. My appetite for learning was just too large. And I didn’t really care for stupid boys anyway. Thank you God for sending me a smart one
I love words. I love the Word of God most of all. I love and thank my mom for nurturing in me a curiosity and the excitement of finding just the right expressive word.
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.