What makes my mother the best is that she has a heart the size of “A” Mountain. I have never met a person so good at showing her love to her children. However, she has never had the financial means to keep up with her constant generosity.
Lana Longoni was born into a Nebraskan family of twelve, and when her father drowned when she was nine, she and her siblings were put up for adoption. She was disconnected from her family for about 30 years, most of whom eventually fell to substance abuse and other extreme circumstances.
I remember my mother seeking out her brothers and sisters from all across the United States when I was very young, acting as catalyst for some very meaningful reunifications. Mom definitely knows how easily families can be torn apart, and I believe that is why she has worked so hard to keep our family so close-knit.
As the years passed, our family grew poorer and eventually filed bankruptcy. And yet my brother and I noticed very few changes to our emotional and material existence. Mom found ways to make everything special. Her enthusiasm for the small things and her consistency in teaching us hard lessons turned my brother and I into conscientious young men.
No matter how hard it got, Christmas stockings and Easter baskets were always overflowing, and mom never seemed to lose her cool. When I living in Taiwan, care packages and holiday gifts arrived in the mail for me and my friends.
Despite bankruptcy and divorce, my brother and I were given excellent educations here in Tucson. My mother never went to college herself, and yet she valued our educations enough to make huge sacrifices of her own, the most recent of them, opening up her home to me and my family as I continue to work for my Master’s degree at the U of A.
Despite a series of economic and personal disappointments throughout her life, I have never seen my mother sustain an attitude of sadness or regret, even when we lost our home in 1995.
She has been helping enormously in raising my 3-year-old son, for she is excellent with children and adults, always balancing our needs and emotions while hers seem to sit on the backburner. She is such a joy, a child herself at the age of 68. Even when money was scarce, she taught us to give some of our own belongings to those less fortunate than us, and on various occasions we would do so anonymously. Even to this day, mom brings food and clothing on a regular basis to a homeless man she sees on her way to work. When her pockets are full, she gives to charities, and when her pockets are empty, she makes phone calls of good cheer and support to her mother of 93 and her sons.
Mom set the pace for the rest of our days - compassion, ethics and hard work. She strengthens us. My mother has been an enduring source of love and support. She inspires those around her, including myself, to be people of quality. My younger brother and I are not just in awe of her unwavering support and generosity, we are products of it. The patience and fortitude she has cultivated in herself has been the marrow of my own success.
Now a man in my mid-30s, I reflect on all I have received from her. She has made me a better father. I owe all that I am to the unconditional love she has blessed me with.