A reflection on my mother’s wisdom on her 96th birthday:

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.

I love you unconditionally

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 me 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 to us.” The reason being you are the most important woman in my life. I love you and respect you unconditionally. You are my mother.

My mother’s story

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 a 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 mahjong. 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. You are and were 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 the lessons mothers leave their daughters– mother’s wisdom.

My mother’s wisdom and words to live by

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.

My mother’s legacy

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.

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