My mom, Susan, was always one to step up and take the lead — even when she really had no credentials to do so. I’ll never forget the summer we were taking the train up to British Columbia, Canada, when a woman 20 rows ahead of us had a full-blown seizure. Everyone in our car was staring in disbelief and was too shocked to move, but my mom went into action. She stood up, yelled across the car, “Get out of the way! I’m a teacher!” Like Moses parting the Red Sea, my mom ran through passengers to get to the woman without missing a beat. My mom sat with her and de-escalated the situation in just 30 seconds. To this day, my siblings and I yell “Get out of the way! I’m a teacher!” to each other whenever we’re in a crowd, giggling at the memory of a mom who had so much confidence in her ability to help that being a teacher was enough to part the crowd for a medical emergency. But that was Mom. Everyone thinks their mom is great, but my mom was incredible. She was a creative, fun-loving, confident elementary school teacher, ‘I’m a Teacher!’
The Biggest Lessons My Mom Taught Me
parent, and grandma. She never ceased to amaze my siblings and me. She was the mom who was up at 4:30 a.m. after having gone to bed at 11 p.m. the night before. She would “dress up” our school lunches on Halloween, turning our juice boxes into “witches’ brew” and our Chef Boyardee Spaghetti and Meatballs into “guts and eyeballs.” She made the best pies for Thanksgiving, and it’s a tradition I try to keep alive every year. She even filled my niece’s home with 100 balloons in 10 different colors on her 10th birthday. Mom always made the holidays and birthdays special — so much so that I was amazed when I was older and realized my wife’s idea of celebrating birthdays only involved cake and presents. And she wasn’t just a great mom. My mom was also a phenomenal teacher. Every year, she would enlist my siblings and me as free labor over the summer to clean and decorate her classroom so it was just right for the next year. I swear I’ve stapled miles of colorful scalloped corkboard lining in that classroom. But she loved her job. She learned how to play all kinds of instruments for her classroom, and she clearly had a knack for it. As an elementary school teacher, everything was an adventure for my mom. One tradition that I will always remember are the big budget-friendly vacations we could take across California every summer. (That’s why we were on the train when the woman had her seizure.) It doesn’t matter where we
were; Mom turned it into an adventure! Her theory was that if you’re going to stop for gas or dinner, you might as well make it fun. We hit every roadside attraction we could all up and down the western half of North America. Today, I keep my mom’s memory alive for my children, who never had the chance to know her as a grandma. Sadly, my mom passed away more than a decade ago when my oldest son was just 1 year old. But with the fervor that my mom lived her life, it’s hard to not commemorate her in many little ways each day. Every trip we take involves hilarious roadside attractions, like the gas station and free petting zoo we stopped at in Scipio, Utah. Every Thanksgiving has homemade pie, and every holiday is a reason to celebrate — just like Mom used to.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms.
–Dr. Josh Satterlee 1
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