Mom’s childhood years were spent in the rural South - Washington GA to be exact. Her parents were loving and old - fashioned. In Mom’s words, they ‘came from a different generation’ - where women were expected to fit a certain mold.
Mom was the middle daughter - with a total of five Hinton sisters. Of all the family, Mom dared to be different. She left her hometown heading to new territory - Norristown PA to be exact - marrying my Dad and showing all of us that molds are for Jello… !!
There were geographical and cultural expectations as to where we would attend grade school. Mom bypassed the school where being of Italian - American descent was a requirement for school and church attendance. Mind you, the Couchara family fit this criteria. We are about as Italian - American as it gets.
Instead our chosen grade school and church embraced and welcomed families with a wide variety of cultural backgrounds. Mom’s words rang true so many times as I witnessed and interacted with friends of all colors and ethnicities.
Mom was proud as a peacock when her children went to college. Mom was especially proud of me and my sister - as this was not her reality - even after she graduated with the highest GPA in high school and the offer of a full college scholarship.
Before getting married in 1987, I had several talks with Mom - including my asking her feelings on couples who choose not to have children.
Mom reminded me of the clear distinction between those who choose not to have children and those who cannot bear children naturally for a variety of medical reasons.
Mom told me that I would always be maternal with the animals, the patients and the students who would cross my path. Mom reminded me that personal happiness and fulfillment was the ultimate marker of success.
“What a boring world it would be if we were all the same. Being different is OK - it’s to be celebrated.”
Mom continues to be the wisest person I’ve known. I’m ever grateful for the number of heart to heart conversations we had over the years.
I regret that my great-nephews and great-nieces do not have the direct benefit of her candor and views in their formative years.
I am asking Santa Claus to be excessively generous in spreading tolerance and respect in his travels - along with the obligatory material gifts that are ‘present’ during this holiday season.
This song has been stuck in my mental soundtrack since Thanksgiving… yes, Virginia, there is even meaning in the introductory dialogue between David Bowie and Bing Crosby:
Until next week, dare to be different and sprinkle some tolerance around you, mar
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