Tomorrow would have been my Mom’s 64th birthday. I think about the things that have happened since she passed away eight years ago due to ALS – one granddaughter is growing up and another has arrived; one daughter was married. She would be retired (but probably still working some), spending her days out and about with friends, and embarrassing us on Facebook.
But this year, rather than dwell on what is not, I will mark her birthday by remembering how she lived.
Here are three life lessons from my Mom that I try to emulate, sometimes gracefully, sometimes not.
- Have fun. Spend time with friends. Laugh a lot. I watched her emulate this lesson with her friends, and by her generous scoring on the golf course (“It’s just a game!”). She told me on my 30th birthday, “You’ve been 30 since you were 12. Lighten up.” So I interpret this lesson on my yoga mat. Do the pose, or not. But try to stop being so serious and enjoy the practice.
- Do something for others. The world is not all about you and other people sometimes need a helping hand. I often think of all the kids who were in my Mom’s schools and wonder how they are doing today. I know she did everything she could – and then some – to make their lives a little better.
- Never settle. After a break-up of epic proportions (or, what seemed epic to me at the time, but looking back of course this was a very transient, young relationship), I was convinced in my teenage dramatic mind that I’d be “alone forever.” Her advice to seek something great, and not settle for a mediocre relationship or life, is something I think of every day.
Tomorrow my sisters and I will make a toast to Mom, and to her mom, who no doubt passed these same lessons on in the first place. We love you and miss you. Happy birthday.