In Honor of My Mother
It’s been six months since my mother passed away and I continue to hold her memory close. For those of you who don’t know, my mother was extremely passionate about her work in the field of mitochondrial genetics. She loved collaborating with her colleagues, sharing information, and discussing interesting cases. She especially loved teaching and sharing her knowledge. Even if you know nothing about mitochondria, after attending one of her lectures, you’ll soon become thoroughly interested because her genuine excitement for the topic is palpable and contagious. She herself was self-driven, purely for the love of learning and bettering herself as a person. She expected just as much from others, but not without compassion.
She instilled in me three important principles:
- She always told me I could do anything and be anything I wanted, as long as I put my mind to it. This profound faith in my abilities gave me a sense of empowerment that’s pushed me to challenge my limits and enabled me to accomplish all the crazy things that I’ve done. Now that I think about it, upon hearing about my crazy endeavors, my mother never doubted that I would actually carry them through and perhaps that’s what made her so cautious and nervous!
- She taught me to always do my best. As a young girl, I inherited my mom’s drive for perfection and would get upset if I fell short of it. My mom would comfort me by asking if I tried my best and if I did, then that’s the best and there’s nothing to get upset about. If I didn’t, then I would know what I needed to work on. Yes, this set high expectations for myself as I pushed myself to be better. At the same time, it taught me self-compassion as I learned to accept consequences without regret as long as I did my best.
- I distinctly remember a rare moment when my mother attended one of my basketball games and actually gave me coaching advice. She told me to be more aggressive. I suppose I must’ve appeared timid to her, never trying to get the ball or go for a shot. That comment changed my life, perhaps because even someone who doesn’t know much about basketball could see that I was holding back. After that, I attempted more steals and took advantage of shooting opportunities, even if I often missed. I even got in a fight (which, for the record, I didn’t start!). Though I doubt my mother meant for me to become feisty, I do believe she wanted me to be confident and take advantage of opportunities as well as be able to defend myself if needed.
These three lessons have guided me through life and shaped who I am today as I watched my mother lead by example. She put in a lot of hard work and in return, led a fortunate and accomplished life for which she showed gratitude daily by giving back to the people and community that supported her. She wanted to see her students and loved ones reach their full potential, try their best, and have confidence in their abilities. I hope that by striving to be the best version of ourselves, with my mother as our cheerleader, we can live with the same passion and joy as she did.
RIP, Mom. I love you.
If interested, you can read more about my mother’s scientific achievements here.