Life sometimes delivers wondrous moments that are easy to miss. Small gestures, simple joys, fleeting moments we often don’t pay attention to.
A monarch fluttering among summer flowers.
A tired little boy falling asleep in Mommy’s arms.
The gentle hug of a friend offering comfort.
An elderly couple holding hands.
There are big, bold moments, too. You can’t miss them. These are deeply impactful events. Sometimes, they literally are life-changing. Often, they simply happen; other times, they are well-orchestrated. In either case, they are usually filled with deep and lasting emotion.
The celebration of love in a wedding.
The birthing of a new life.
Marking effort and achievement at a graduation.
A funeral honoring a life now ended.
Then, there are moments you never expect, reflect on with amazement, and find difficult to even describe. You are simply enveloped by love from the outside in and bursting with love from the inside out.
I was given the gift of one of those moments Friday night.
A great evening was planned. My husband and I were attending the Keynote 2012 event for The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio with our daughter and two of her employees. Our daughter, Heather Whaling, serves on the Board of this philanthropic organization, dedicated to programs for women and girls.
Whoopi Goldberg was the feature guest, slated to be interviewed by Ohio Supreme Court Justice Yvette McGee Brown. Whoopi was anticipated to be such a draw that the event was moved from the stately and grand Ohio Theater to the much larger Nationwide Arena. I had attended the event with my daughter two years ago; I knew it was going to be wonderful.
Little did I know.
Cue “the moment.”
A voice boomed through the arena, welcoming us to the event. Well over four thousand women – and a few men – settled in with anticipation. The lights dimmed. Three gigantic screens indicated the evening was about to begin.
Then, there up on the screen was my daughter, while the words, “A tribute to my Mom…” scrolled across her image. And then she spoke.
My brain was trying to comprehend what I was seeing and hearing. I glanced sideways at my husband, who was beaming over the secret he somehow managed to keep. I looked the other way at my daughter who simply smiled. I looked back at the screen and realized what was happening.
The program was kicking off with a tribute to me from my daughter, about my influence on her life.
I’m still trying to remember and digest all that I heard during those few minutes. Heather reflected back on our lives, the choices I made that impacted her and the choices she made that I supported. These are not exact quotes, but include phrases I heard, now burned on my heart:
My Mom raised me to be an independent woman…
When I decided to spread my wings and go to college in Missouri, she never told me not to go, but supported my independence…
My Mom is the single most influential person on the woman I am today…
My Mom taught me how to be a compassionate and caring person…
I truly believe that all parents strive to do their best, given whatever circumstances they are in, what knowledge they have, what opportunities they have access to. But, other than observing how our child’s life evolves and the occasional thank you for a specific act, we really don’t get a lot of feedback on the work we’ve done. Most parents don’t expect it.
It’s both a parent’s obligation and privilege to raise children who are confident, content, contributing members of society. Sometimes, though, parents or other caregivers need help. It really does take a village. The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio supports opportunities for women and girls to grow as difference makers, recognizing the important role we have in all aspects of society.
I am deeply honored that my influence on the woman my daughter is was the kick-off tribute for the Keynote event. It’s not easy to upstage Whoopi, but in my experience Friday night, my daughter did.
Thank you, Heather.
Fewer than 7% of philanthropic dollars are invested in programs that specifically support women and girls. The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio exists to increase that 7%. If you would like to help, click here and donate.