Everything I have learned about love came from my mother. Even when it doesn’t make a lot of sense to give, she gives to a loved one without batting an eye. I attribute this to her tender heart; however, one does not become tender without a lot of pain (meat is tenderized by beating it).
Ana Kordovich (Galovski) was born in Bukovo (a small village in Macedonia) on September 4th, 1939. The day before her birth her father (my Dedo Gus:) was called back to America because of the turmoil in Europe (WWII was on the horizon). If he did not return at that time, he risked losing his hard-earned American citizenship. This led to a 12-year separation. During those war years, everyone suffered. One significant memory was when she and my grandmother had to escape an Italian invasion by quietly walking through an ice-cold river up the mountain.
Because my mother didn’t have her father present, children in the village taunted her with vulgar names. It left a permanent scar. She and my grandmother were finally able to get government approval to join my grandfather in America right before her teen years began. She struggled with learning English at first, but quickly caught up and earned high grades in high school. In her twenties, she met and fell in love with an incredibly handsome man; they married before she truly knew what she was getting into. As handsome as he was, my father had a darkness in him that equaled his looks.
It wasn’t until I became an adult and heard these stories that I was able to understand how incredible my mother truly is. With all this pain in her past, how did she not become bitter? Once I became a wife and mother, I better understood what motivated my mother.
When I was younger, my mother’s high-spirited yells used to embarrass me at my brother’s soccer games: One time she actually had a referee throw a whistle at her, telling her to do a better job. About four years ago, a volleyball referee almost threw me out of a game for yelling at him about a ridiculous call against my daughter. Now, I know that my mother’s love for her children forced her immediate defense of their being wronged, no matter where, no matter whom.
In my teenage years, I judged her for staying with my father for so long: He was abusive, an alcoholic, and a gambler. I wondered how she could be so weak. Now, I understand her choices had more to do with her love for a man who could be kind and gentle and charming most of the time; more to do with her love for her children and the fear of their growing up without a father in their lives; more to do with the hope that my father would become the husband and father in our lives that she so longed for. She refused to give up on him, not out of weakness, but out of love and compassion and hope. Like my mother, I believe in the vows I made, promising to love, honor, and cherish, in good times and bad.
When I went to college, I thought I was so much smarter than my mother and her high-school degree. All I knew is that she worked for an insurance company. Later, I discovered that she started as an assistant, worked her way up to an account executive, and built up her own insurance book of business. Not only was she smart, but she had a strong work ethic, an understanding of personal relationships, a respect for individuals (not the size of their wallets), and a faithfulness to her word and the needs of her clients. (The spirit of those qualities I have tried to emulate as a teacher.) The most amazing things she has been able to accomplish with her high-school degree are surviving a divorce, raising three children on her own (all of which went to college), pay off her house, bail her children out of financial set-backs, and still have enough to provide for her grand children.
My mother is a blessing not only to me, but also to so many people. She lovingly gives to others, even if they don’t deserve it. However, because my mother loves with a tender heart, she gives grace, rather than justice. My brother jokingly put it this way: If Mom saw that one of us needed a shirt, not only would she take hers off to give it to us, but she would chase down the person walking past her, pull off his shirt and give it to us, so we could have a back-up plan.
My mother’s heart is larger than the average heart: It has the propensity to love deeper, give greater, and forgive fuller than any heart I have ever known. I am blessed to have been raised by such a woman; I am blessed to have been given so much from this woman. I pray that my heart will grow to an abnormal size, so I may bless others the way she has blessed me.