Their mothers have died, or live far away, or they miss having the close relationship that I have with my mom.
At 93.5 years, Mom has survived the death of her husband after 60 years of marriage, overcome severe health problems, and endured the deaths of most of her friends and family.
She could feel sorry for herself, but she doesn’t. Her eyes and face glow with an inner light that beckons and welcomes anyone in her presence. She is serene. She is playful. When she laughs, we all laugh. We can’t help ourselves.
She is determined to be strong enough to walk unaided. In the meantime, she uses a walker that she named Johnny. She gave Johnny his style by attaching the stuffed animals she won at Bingo to his legs and crossbars. Her stuffed zoo goes wherever she and Johnny Walker go.
I walk behind her to aid her balance, and I have an unobstructed view of the smiles Mom gets when people see her taking Johnny for a stroll. They stop and ask her about her animals, and she tells them, “They are my family.” Then she breaks into a big smile at her own joke, and her new friends smile with her.
When my dad died, Mom didn’t want to go on alone. It tore my heart to hear her wish that God would call her to join Dad in heaven. She continues to ask, “Why am I still here?” more times that I can count. My answer is always, “There must be something left for you to do.”
I believe she is here to show us how to age gracefully through her example. How to handle crippling pain without complaining, how to listen to people pour out their hopes and fears and keep their secrets, how to be creative with what we have, and how to accept people as they are.
I think she’s still here to help all of us be better people.
Here are 12 things Mom taught me about living and loving that you can practice, too.
1. Be kind.
- If you don’t have something nice to say, keep your mouth shut and let go of the hurtful thoughts before they attach.
- Unclench your hands and your heart.
- Ask, “How can I help?” at least once a day.
2. Be fearless.
- When fear comes, as it does to all of us, examine it and understand it so it loses its power.
- Make it disappear by finding a new point of view or doing something that replaces the fear with determination and hope.
3. Express your love.
- Don’t ever let a chance to say, “I love you” pass you by.
- Hug, kiss, hold hands, smile with your eyes, give compliments, and find ways to be together.
4. Have faith.
- Believe in yourself and accept that you can’t control everything.
- Don’t give up.
- Find ways to solve your problems as best you can and understand that some problems are going to be your companions in life.
5. Show respect.
- Look into the eyes of anyone you meet and pay attention to them as the only person in your life at that moment.
- Use your manners.
- Respect your mind, spirit, and body and nurture them.
6. Spend time with babies and children.
- Welcome them into this world and engage with them so they feel important.
- Teach them manners and help them develop a conscience.
- Smile at them and praise them so they feel loved and accepted.
7. Have purpose.
- Approach any task with optimism.
- Find a way to turn the mundane into achievement.
- Learn the hopes and goals of those around you, and then support them along the way.
8. Practice self-control.
- Have one margarita instead of the whole pitcher.
- Let others go first.
- Make a budget and avoid debt.
- Think before you speak; you can never take words back.
- Get enough sleep so you can be your best self.
- Haul yourself outside to walk or go to a gym.
(When she was 75, Mom had a stationary bike in her garage; she rode at least three miles every day. She garage-biked 1,990 miles from Albuquerque to New York City in one year.)
9. Give second chances.
- Instead of being hurt and angry with someone, ask yourself if there could be another point of view in this situation.
- Talk to the person to find out, and be ready to forgive as well as apologize when necessary.
(When my cousin and I were angry with one another, we went to Chair Jail. Mom made us sit facing one another in chairs that were far enough apart that we couldn’t reach one another to hit or kick. We had to stay there until our anger passed. When we began making funny faces and laughing, she knew it was safe to turn us loose.)
10. Be loyal.
- When you promise something, keep your promise.
- Avoid gossip.
- Praise your spouse, partner, children, family and friends often, especially in front of others.
11. Have fun.
- Find the humor in little things.
- Laugh at yourself.
- Play games.
- Share stories.
- Watch movies.
- Listen to music.
- Give parties.
- Start each morning by laughing out loud.
12. Keep learning.
- Know how to operate a computer.
- Read books.
- Watch TedTalks.
- Go to museums.
- Start a new business.
- Develop a new hobby.
- Spend time learning things on YouTube.
I want to share a card I wrote to tell my mom how important she is to me. You can get it free right now at GreetingPIX.com until midnight (PST) on Mother’s Day.
Write an email to your mom telling her you’re sending her a Mother’s Day video card; then copy and paste this link (Happy Mother’s Day!) at the end of your note. Hit Send. She will see your name in her Inbox with your card waiting for her to play when she opens your email and clicks on the link. She can play it over and over.
If she doesn’t use a computer, call her up and read the poem in the card to her.
Be sure and give your mom a hug from me, too, the next time you see her!