Someone to Watch Over Us


Growing up most of us were fortunate to have some special people to watch over us. Perhaps it was our parents or a favorite aunt or uncle. Whoever it was we felt the security of unconditional preservation. Even when there were disagreements or misunderstandings, the reality remained that we would always be taken care of by that person. I felt this way about my mother. She protected me from more than skinned knees and dangerous road crossings. She made sure I was safe from the things in life that are harsh truths for many of us growing up in an alcoholic home. I may have known the dangers but I never felt in jeopardy.

In 2007, we buried my mother back in her hometown of Davenport, Iowa. A place she was raised by two very strong, very determined women. During their life, they all became single. They became models of self reliance—weathering the depression, wars, and social inequality. Yet, they all watched out for one another. My grandmother provided a home, my great grandmother provided the meals, my mother provided the hope for the future. While they departed life at different intervals, they are now memorialized under one marker, atop a hill which looks south toward the Mississippi River. That river has become synonymous to the current of their presence which still runs through me.

I went to this place on the hill recently and sat next to their marker. It was peaceful, but more than that, I understood for perhaps the first time how grateful I am for these women. Their lives have encouraged my life. Even after they have passed, I still feel I have them watching over me.

What a gift I have been given and it is a gift we can extend to others–our unrequited kindness to want the best for our children, our friends, and all the people we love. There is nothing quite like knowing there is someone out there who provides the certainty that we matter. My mother gave me that and it stays a part of me, long after her smile has faded. Perhaps it is one of the things we are given in this life to do—watch over one another with open and caring hearts.

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