In honor of the best person I know

I wrote this piece on June 29. Nine days later, mom had a stroke. She is doing great — amazing, actually. I mention it here as a historical footnote of sorts. The timing of the original writing was…uncanny. Suffice it to say that we are all extra grateful to be celebrating our mom this year!

Today is a special day in the Turori family.

Today we celebrate the birth of the woman who is the glue that holds us together.

If you’ve ever thought of me (or any of my siblings) as a kind or responsible or just decent human, you can thank my mom.

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To honor the best person I know, here are five of the best life lessons I have learned from her.

Siblings are better as friends

For as far back as I can remember, my mom has preached the gospel of sibling friendship. When things got rocky between the five of us, as relationships between siblings inevitably do, she would sit us down for a reminder lecture on how siblings have the potential to be wonderful, lifelong friends. These lectures were always illustrated with stories from her own childhood and that of her father.

Those lectures left a lasting impression. To date, Team Turori boasts four adult and one not-quite-an-adult-yet siblings who are best friends.

Our bond runs deep. Weathered and strengthened by many (oh, so many) storms. No only are we all true friends, we are also healthy, responsible, moral, unique humans. Flawed, to be sure, but generally good people.

I don’t know what the odds are on raising five decent kids, but it stands as an incredible a legacy.

A faith that won’t hold up to questioning is not a faith worth having

I’ve witnessed a lot of people refuse to engage with their kids on weighty topics. That was never the case with my mom. Deep questions about the nature of the world? No problem, let’s talk about it. Having doubts about humanity because of all the bad people in the world? Yep, we’ll talk about that, too.

Our questions about faith (and everything else in life) were always treated with respect. She never talked down to us and never shied away from discussing the hard truths of a world in turmoil. Questions were always treated with respect, honesty, and humility when necessary.

Women should embrace adventure

If you met my mother for the first time today, you would meet a woman who spends her days maintaining a mini-ranch. She cares for a host of animals on the daily and grows hundreds of pounds of food in her garden each year. She hasn’t traveled outside of California in years and rarely leaves home for overnight trips.

You might think you were meeting a woman who has always been a quiet, hardworking stay-at-home mom type — and you would be dead wrong. Solo female travel is a hip thing that travel bloggers write about now, but my mom was one of the originals back in the 1970s. She explored the world, mostly on her own. She’s seen the pyramids, walked the streets Turkey, and traveled the South Pacific where she met my dad. Then she traded it all in for a quiet life.

Furthermore, she taught me that women can be anything. When I dreamed of becoming an Olympic athlete and playing for the national soccer team, she helped me to figure out training regimes and drove me to distant try outs. She encouraged me when I started learning to code, when I wheeled from a library science major to film, and my present career working for STAA.

In a few days I am embarking on my own adventure. I might never have dared to dream this big if mom hadn’t modeled that spirit of adventure years ago.

There is always room for one more

Our friends were always welcome to hang out at our house. When you start with five of your own kids, add a few friends, and presto! Like magic, our house was always loud and full of people. A regular parade of characters came through the house and one or more “extra” kids were often added to the lunch or dinner table.

Some parents would never have put up with the all of the chaos, but mom turned our house into a haven for our friends. A place where you are always welcomed with love and treated as one of the family.

Ours is a culture that too often pushes for individuals to live as islands unto themselves instead of living in community with others. Hospitality is a lost art, perhaps because it pushes us to share what little we may have with others.

After all, when you already have five kids, what’s the harm in adding one or two more?

Laugh. As loud and often as possible

If there is one thing there is one thing that I love about my family it is sense of joy that permeates our time spent together. Our family has known our fair share of tears, suffering, and hard times. Through all of it, we have maintained an ability to laugh and be silly.

We are able to do so because the example was set by mom. I love the many sides of my mom, but one of my all-time favorites is Uncontrollably Laughing Mom. Her face turns red, tears run freely, and her whole body shakes from laughing so hard. It’s the best.

There are countless other valuable lessons mom instilled in us. Everything from the mundane (how to load a dishwasher to the max), to personal safety (never leave a pencil lying on the floor. You will regret impaling your foot on it later), to an undying appreciation for weird novelty music.

Happy birthday mom!