Just in Time to Pay Homage to My Mom, a Role Model

If you get lucky in life, you get to learn from your mom and for a very long time. I got lucky with my mom, now 96 ½. With my two daughters, grandson, son-in-law, and beau, we get to toast her once again this coming Mother’s Day, and say thanks for all you’ve done.

What exactly is the good stuff she’s done? Let me count the ways. I know there are others but these baker’s dozen (13) stand out. And for all those friends and family members who have lost their mothers, I hope the day isn’t too sad. Perhaps you too can focus on the good things you learned from your mom. Mine taught me:


  • Good values; that people and kindness mean far more than money; shrouds–burial clothing–don’t have pockets so you can’t take those dollars with you to an afterworld. Save for a rainy day, she advised, but share and “give with a warm hand” what you have with family and your closest friends.
  • To love my home so I’d want to spend lots of time there rather than at resorts or elsewhere in the world. What makes you love your home? The people who live there and visit and where you create lifelong memories.
  • To love books; you always have a friend if you have a good book, she has said. And one of the first books she gave me when I started my writing career was one written by Pulitzer Prize winner Eudora Welty, whose Natchez, Mississippi, home and garden I recently visited.
  • Not to leave others out, especially singles who might not have a place to go for a holiday or even a weekend meal. Sundays can be the toughest she realized once she was alone. And she agreed with the wisdom of a former beauof mine who always said, “Include who you can. You can always add more water to the soup.”
  • Not to complain, except when a situation was dreadful–when she endured treatments for cancer and had a knee replaced. She was miserable at times, but she mostly kept it to herself and always said she’d be fine. We told her it’s fine to complain to us, even sometimes when she took things out on us because she was in pain and uncomfortable.
  • To keep learning by reading the newspaper daily, listening to the news and her favorite Charlie Rose TV interviews, traveling, going to museums and concerts and taking copious notes to help her remember what she heard, saw, and learned.
  • Not to settle for inferior quality whether friendships, love and romance. She treasured and nourished her relationships with regular notes and calls, even if she stayed on only briefly since she still believes she’s paying for message units, a fee of the past.
  • Not to waste money on unimportant stuff such as taxis, super-expensive shampoos, plastic bags, and sugar packets. We laughed but she was right…of course.
  • The value of a good education and career and the importance of always having work you enjoy, not necessarily 24/7 as I do, but to enjoy it to keep your brain stimulated and engaged in life.
  • To always be there for my kids as she’s been there for me. The phone is always available; the front door is always open; the refrigerator is always full and with smells that remind us of Gammy’s kitchen, especially her roast chicken.
  • It’s okay to not to see eye to eye on certain matters with her and with our friends and family. It’s perfectly acceptable to agree to disagree.
  • Even if sometimes it was hard for her to let go, she had her time to parent and raising my kids meant I got to make the decisions. Now I know that my kids have the right to make theirs, mistakes and all. I’ve heeded that morsel carefully, even when I am dying to put in my two cents with my daughters. Okay, full transparency, I sometimes have, but not too often, and then she taught me to back off.
  • To love cooking and baking. The rugelach I now make are yummier than hers and she’s so happy about that. So in honor of Mom and moms everywhere I’m sharing my recipe, which isn’t hers because we can’t find it. I started using a fairly similar one from Ina Garten, though I include more jam, pecans, and cinnamon than the recipe called for. That was another secret of hers; you don’t have to follow everything to the letter of the law, especially when you have good ingredients.

Thanks again, Mom, and we hope every day you have a very happy healthy Mother’s Day

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