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  • The full volume of lessons a mother teaches her child may never be counted. They include hundreds of common sense morsels like: don't talk to strangers, look both ways when crossing the street and how to hold a fork. But all those rules and points of etiquette do little to show who she is and who she wants her child to be.

    There are more. These are the lessons of experience that a child learns through a lifetime of observing her reactions to the mundane and crisis alike. They are balanced against the reactions of others in similar situations. They are challenged, sometimes for the sake of challenge, which I often lost. A hundred anecdotes and parables about my mother, Debra Lynn, might begin to explain her, but not well enough.

    My mom has three lessons above all others. These are the lessons by which she lives her life and by which she hopes that my sister, my brother and I would live ours. This is the core of my mother:

    Know your limits. I am a human being, and at some point, I will top out. However, infinity exists between one and two. By defining my limits, I can achieve anything within them.

    You're not alone. Even when I am at my limit. I can always draw on the strength of a power beyond them. A crumb of faith can provide unlimited strength.

    Love can never be repaid. The compassion, empathy, and sympathy poured from my mom to me is a debt that can never be zeroed out. The only way I can meet the obligation of that debt is to pass that bank on to someone else.

    These are the lessons that define my mother. Hopefully, I will use them well.

    (Photo by David McGrath at Cheesequake State Park, Old Bridge, NJ)
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