My mother had a special gift.
If you Google Mrs. Joan Fitzgerald Curry, you won’t find articles about her intelligence, her wit or accomplishments. While she had those, they didn’t capture the attention of the world beyond those who knew and loved her.
Yet she had a kind of talent, an innate gift, that is more true and essentially noteworthy than much of the behavior that millions of viewers tune in to reality shows to watch.
My mother could make a person visiting her home, or even just meeting her anywhere, feel deeply welcome.
I suppose you’d call it “hospitality.” She just found a way to make a person feel seen and attended to in a way that did not draw attention to either the giver or the receiver.
It was almost magical – seemed effortless and subtle, yet profound.
I remember my husband, visiting my mother with me, meeting her for the first time, remarking later that she just had this “way” about her that put him at ease. He couldn’t put his finger on what she did, just knew how he’d felt with her.
It is a lost art, I think.
Towards the end of her life until her death, I began to observe and reflect upon this phenomenon in her personality.
What were the key elements that colored her hospitality?
She was warm. She was welcoming. She was genuinely interested in others’ lives. She was generous. She had an easy smile, a twinkle in her eyes, a melodic voice and laugh.
When she was with you, there was no sense of urgency to get on to the next thing. She was present with you, and her presence invited you to do the same. She brought a safe space wherever she was.
She left this earth as generously as she lived in it. Ever the gracious hostess, she left me a number of parting gifts. A spiritual swag bag.
One that I value above all else is the lesson contained within her hospitality. That she left behind circles of people who, when remembering her, would remember how comfortable they felt in her presence. How seen and heard. How good she made them feel.
I’d heard that before, that after you die, that’s all that is really left behind: how you made people feel.
Now I know this to be true.
And since her death, I am continually inspired to develop and nurture whatever tiny nugget of her gift I can craft.
I aspire to live as she did. It doesn’t just mean hosting guests. It means how I treat strangers on the street. In the daily interactions I have with the other people on this planet.
How do I leave people after I cross paths with them? Do they feel uplifted for some undefinable reason, or do they feel drained?
I falter, I fail. But sometimes, I hope, I bring a good feeling to someone’s day. Sometimes, I am like Joan.
It is her legacy, and it is priceless to me.
#mothersday #hospitality #legacy
Prompted by The Daily Post daily word: hospitality