Life Lessons Learned From My Mother

I would like to dedicate The Good for You Network to the person who has had the most significant impact on my life—my Mother—my best friend, guide and teacher (as in adulthood, I became for her). She made a positive difference in the life of every person she touched. She taught me by her fine example about taking good care of yourself and others.

She was truly interested in every person she met and treated everyone well.

People were always drawn to her—even strangers, in restaurants would walk over to her to say they couldn’t leave without saying hello—to tell her that she was  so “cute” or has a “beautiful spirit”  When she would express surprise—why do they say that?—I would respond:  “Because it’s true.”

Her cheerful, accepting nature and her optimistic, enthusiastic joy of living were an inspiration to all who knew her.

As a friend said, “There was no one quite like her.  She was a one of a kind—a shining jewel who put a smile on your face—there were no pretensions.”

There were so many simple Life Lessons Learned from my mother that I would like to share:

  • Get pleasure out of every little thing in life, because life is made up of the little things.  Some people are always waiting for the “big” thing to come along.  And they wait and wait and then when it does happen, they are happy for a week or a month, but then…
  • On the flip side, don’t get upset about the little things.   Wait until something big comes along.  When my Father died that was the big thing.  And there was my mom telling me:  “Every day will be a little bit better.”  A friend of mine once told me that every time she would call her mother to complain about something that happened at work, her mother would ask, “so did anybody die?”  Of course not, she’d respond.  She truly understood what her mother was saying to her after her mother died.
  • Be genuinely interested in every person you meet.  There is something to be learned from everyone.  And you make others feel good with your interest in them.
  • In fact, it’s so easy to make someone feel good.   My mom, with her caring spirit, couldn’t intentionally hurt another person.
  • Be open to learning at every age and stage of life.  My mother was always reading and passing along articles and quotes that struck her fancy.  On her refrigerator was a story about the act of smiling—a study showed that smiling, whether you mean it or not, is good for you—just exercising those muscles.
  • Be grateful—appreciate everything you have.  My mom loved the quote from the movie One True Thing with Meryl Streep playing a mother who tells her daughter to “love what you have rather than yearning for what you don’t have.”  She truly practiced an attitude of gratitude.

My mother nurtured and nourished her family with lots of love and support —as well as good nutrition. She believed in whole wheat bread—when I longed for the white pastie stuff.  She laced the meatloaf with wheat germ, because it was good for you, and thought fruit was a wonderful dessert.

She believed in buying good quality ingredients—fresh fruits, vegetables, etc.  I loved her cooking.  The meals she prepared were healthy and tasty, and our family enjoyed a rich measure of good health.  My mother took no daily prescription medication—good nutrition, along with some vitamins and supplements and a healthy dose of singing and laughter, were her best medicine.

She loved to entertain, because it meant bringing together her extended family and friends. She was devoted to us all.

She believed in the importance of daily exercise—My mother started every day with her stretching exercises, which began even before she got out of bed.  She swore by her finger exercises and nightshade diet (avoiding eggplant, peppers, white potato and raw tomatoes).  She believed it contributed to her not getting arthritis in her fingers.  And she took long walks for exercise when she was physically able.

I learned from her about what I call healthy vanity— Looking good and feeling good go together.  When people get depressed, they may gain weight and stop caring about their appearance.  My mother always walked out of the house and got complements not only about her appearance, but her energy and vitality.  As someone said to me, “she was a ray of sunshine.”

She loved the quote she found on the Internet about how to live your life, which was:  “Get up, get dressed and show up.”

She told me that “Your happiness is more important to me than my own.  Do not react badly no matter what.” Less than one week later, my dearly loved mother took her last breath. I was by her side.  What a profound experience.  The second before the last breath, her spirit was there.  The second after, her mouth was open and it was like looking into an empty shell.

I always said no mother on this planet earth ever loved a daughter more- or vice versa.  As much, but not more.  She meant the world to me, and I to her.

We were blessed to not only love each other dearly, but always thoroughly enjoyed spending time together from the time I was a child.

She wrote me a couple of years ago what I would now describe as a Good for You Message thanking me for always making her happy and giving her so many reasons to smile:

“Thanks for your hugs and your help and your humor, for letting me know how much you appreciate me. Thank you for showing me all through the years I’m the luckiest parent there ever could be.  The special relationship you and I share is something not easy to find.  It’s trust, understanding, love and friendship.  It means so much to me.” 

I miss her physical presence—to the depths of my being—beyond what words can convey.  It is a major turning point.  My life will never be the same.

A friend said to me, “you and your mother had an amazing mother-daughter relationship and you will carry the gifts of her virtues with you always.”

If we are here to love and be loved and to make a meaningful difference in the lives of friends, family and every person we meet, then Mission Accomplished, Mom:  A job well done.  A life well lived.   Good for You!!!

What are the life lessons you have learned from your mother or father or whoever is a significant person in your life?  Why not thank that person with a Good for You Message?  And if you like, share it with us.  There is so much that we can learn from each other.

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