by Natalie Yuhas
“Remember, elephants stick together,” my mom warns me as she gives me a stern gaze from across the kitchen table, implying that I should definitely not knock her piece back to home in my next move in the family game of Sorry!, even if it is the most strategic option for me. “It doesn’t count as cheating,” she insists when my brothers and dad complain that we are teaming up. “Elephants stick together.”
I don’t exactly remember how or when it happened, but over the years elephants have come to mean a lot in my relationship with my mom. Along with being extremely intelligent and having a
remarkable memory, elephants travel in matriarchal herds. When a baby male elephant reaches adolescent years, it leaves the herd and lives a mostly solitary life, while on the other hand, the
mother, daughter, and sister elephants stay together for their entire lives and form extremely close bonds. After my mom learned this, she picked up the phrase “elephants stick together” and it
became symbolic of our own little herd.
The older I get, the more I realize how important my mom is in my own life. Of course, there’s the obvious reason that I literally would not be here without her, but even more than that, she serves as an amazing example of faith and love, just as Mary is in the Catholic Church. When I look back on my childhood, I have the best memories of reading together at bedtime and of her teaching me how to catch a baseball correctly. Even when it seemed like we were never on the same page during high school, I now understand that it was tough love, and I feel like a better and more disciplined person today because of it. I thought that I wouldn’t need my parents as much when I went away to college and became more independent, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Elephants stick together. My day just doesn’t feel complete unless I call my mom. She’s my favorite person to talk to because she will always laugh with me about the stupid drama that I somehow always find myself in, listen to me complain about everything that is stressing me out, and help me when I have to make tough decisions or don’t know what to do. Somehow she always finds the right things to say.
Another thing I have come to appreciate more about my mom is her selfless devotion to others. Whether it is helping out our elderly neighbors or at our parish, making cookies for residents of the nursing home in our town, or shipping me my favorite books with encouraging notes tucked in-between random pages so that I will stumble upon them mid-read, she continually sets an example of how to love. She’s helped me grow in my faith and understand that love is a sacrifice and love is serving others, even when it is difficult. She embodies the selflessness and bravery of Mary in every way I can think of, and I am so grateful this Mother’s Day, and everyday, to have her in my life.
On the index finger of my right hand, I have an elephant ring that I very rarely take off. My mom sent it to me while I was away at school with a note inside the box saying, “Always remember that I love you!” Elephants never forget, and there’s no way I could possibly forget the example of love my mom has, and continues to, set for me and for everyone she encounters.