10 Lessons I Learned From My Mother

In honor of Mother’s Day I am reprinting a list I made 13 years ago when my mother turned 90.  She was more mobile then so I have updated my comments.  The lessons are the same but some of them she no longer can do.  My mother turned 103 on January 3, 2017.  Since I live with my mother during the summer months and have lived with her for 20 years, I have had the unique opportunity to observe what she does and learn from it.  Here is a list of 10 lessons my mother taught me.

  1. Establish and stay connected to a supportive community. My mother is genuinely interested in the welfare of her family and friends.  When she was younger and more mobile she visited with them, telephoned them or wrote to them regularly.  Now with very few friends still living she stays in touch by phone with family members.  She was a good friend, and is a good mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt and cousin!  She cares for others and they care for her.
  2. Have friends of all ages. My mother played duplicate bridge at least three times a week. This enabled her to meet lots of new people of varying ages.  Her partners have been people in their 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.  Everyone commented on how sharp and with it my mother was!  Now that my mother is legally blind she no longer can play cards.  It is sad to me that none of her bridge friends have stayed in touch.  She does have friends of all ages though in the synagogue we attend both in Massachusetts and Florida.
  3. Strive to be an expert at something. My mother didn’t just play bridge, she studied it.  She took lessons and made notes on what she had learned in a big loose-leaf binder.  Between bridge sessions she reviewed her notes.  Even now after 3 years not playing bridge someone from her old bridge group will see her walking or at the synagogue and stop to say hello.  They always tell me what a great bridge player she was.
  4. Be open-minded. My mother and I have different political views.  She often asks me about my ideas on a topic even though she knows we will disagree.  She is always respectful of my views and takes them into consideration when formulating her own.  ( I must admit we do often have some heated discussion and in the end we agree to disagree!)
  5. Keep traditions alive – My mother has always loved entertaining people. On holidays we always had dinner at her home both while my father was alive and after.  Now she lives with me in the summer and when the Jewish holidays arrive I make the holiday meals and she still attends the synagogue.  People recognize her and save a seat in the front row for her.
  6.  Make time for other people. My mother has been a faithful member of her synagogue for over 60 years.  During that time she has served on various committees for the Temple and Sisterhood.  She also has been an active member the Multiple Sclerosis Organization.  In addition she was a wonderful tutor to several children.  For years she kept up with the progress of those children who went on to have successful lives. My children and I also benefited by her generosity.  When I went to work full time she and my Dad would check on my children after school to make sure they got home from school and were working on their homework.
  7. Stay up to date on current events and business issues. My mother taught me to have an avid interest in the events going on in the world and in business.  She still follows the news on TV and is interested in what the stock market is doing.
  8. Read constantly – I can’t remember a time when my Mother didn’t have a book she was reading. Losing her eye sight made reading impossible for her.  When it happened she investigated how to get talking books and now gets a new book a week mailed to her.  What a wonderful free service this is!
  9. Be thrifty. Don’t buy what you don’t need.  Strive to find the best price for the things you need.  Never one to miss an opportunity Mom used to make a list of what she needed, studied the supermarket ads and then go to all 4 super markets in Salem and Swampscott to buy the items that are specially priced that week at each market.  She was always delighted in getting a real “bargain” and was sure the super markets were losing money on her!  Now that she is unable to shop I do the shopping.  I follow her lead, watching the ads, making a list and going to the stores for the “special’ prices.
  10. Take good care of your health. Since I was a little girl my mother has taught me that it is important to see the doctor and dentist regularly. She also taught me to eat properly.  Later in life when she had health challenges she was quick to adapt her life style to make sure that her health was not compromised.  Today she is on a low sugar, low carbohydrate, low sodium diet.  She is very careful about what she eats, testing her blood and weighing herself daily.

Maybe it was the age I grew up in but when I was growing up my mother was always in the background.  I appreciate her now but I’m not sure I did when I was younger.  It has been a gift to have my mother with me this long.  I’ve made up for my lack of appreciation these last 20 years. What have you learned from your mother?

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