GMS: A Letter To My Fabulous Mother at 96

By Susan "Honey" Good

As I drift off to sleep each night, my mind sifts through memories until it settles on something definitive and last night was no different. I was trying to recall a special mother-daughter story I had written to read to you on your 96th birthday.

My whirling thoughts reminded me of my old Rolodex as I searched for a favorite memory. I have thousands of stories stored in my mind and fortunately, I add more and more because I am blessed to have you.

Through all our high hills of laughter and excitement and our potholes where we sunk into silence, our mother–daughter bond is unbreakable. The chemistry between you and I is fierce and no matter how angry I have been with you, there has never been a time I did not pick up the phone and say, “Please let’s not argue. I am sorry this is happening between us.” The reason being you are the most important woman in my life. I love you and respect you unconditionally. You are my mother.

You were born Elaine Barbara Lang on April 14, 1921 under the sign, Aries, the ram. The zodiac sign was an indication of what was to come. You were strong willed, beautiful, popular and bright, graduating from high school at the age of 16. If you were a young woman today, I dare say the Huffington Post would have a different name — The Elaine Post.

Your only bad luck was being born at the wrong time, but that did not stop you from leading a “fabulous” life. You did everything well, not because you were a perfectionist but because you had tenacity and true grit. You loved life and were eager to explore all facets. I watched you play scrabble, do the daily newspaper crossword, needlepoint, knit and crochet. You learned to play golf and ski and loved to travel. You played bridge, canasta and majong. You were the most devoted wife and last but not least, you had and still have an impeccable sense of style and a wonderful sense of humor. My movie star mother.

My rolodex twirling mind stops on a fitting memory. I remember the day I interviewed you for a story I wrote about words of wisdom that a mother leaves her daughter.

Here are your answers I recorded.

  1. CONFIDENCE: If people talk about you, you know you are interesting.
  2. STYLE: A woman’s style is a combination of many things, but 80% is her inner style. That is what makes her beautiful.
  3. SECRETS: A secret is a secret until you tell someone.
  4. CHILDREN: Remember darling these two wise quotes: “One mother can take care of 10 children, but 10 children cannot take care of one mother.” “You give your children their roots and then their wings.”
  5. GIRLFRIENDS: Choose friends who have your values, but different interests so you can grow.
  6. SKINCARE: Never use soap on your skin.
  7. CONVERSATION: Talk less and listen more.
  8. AGING GRACEFULLY: Exercise your mind, darling.
  9. SUCCESSFUL MARRIAGE: A woman makes a marriage.
  10. HEALTH: Be proactive. It will save your life.
  11. CHOOSING A SPOUSE:  Make a list of what you need in a spouse. Stick to it because the most important decision you make in your life is who you choose to marry.
  12. LIVING A HAPPY LIFE: Live in the present. It is a gift. 
  13. PERSONAL HAPPINESS: Own your self-respect. Have a purpose. Love much and laugh often.

What a legacy you have bestowed on me, mom. I truly believe that a mother’s role is to leave her children with “wisdom in their heads” not money in their bank account. You have given me that gift, a gift I will carry all the days of my life and pass down to my children and grandchildren. 

Everyone in this room looks up to you, loves you and wishes you a wonderful 96th year. Happy Birthday.