I AM My Mother's Daughter


The last time my mom and I were together was on December 10. The next morning, Shelly, Orchid and I left Chicago for our home in California. When we part, my mom and I never say "good-bye." We say "so long." Actually my mom is always with me because in most ways, I am my mother's daughter!

I am reflecting on how we differ. I think it is important to take from our mothers what we love about their persona and toss aside what we don't embrace. And I have.

My mom and I differ in three ways. She is very critical because it is her way of showing she cares. I am not at all critical and I care as much! She is the trunk of a tree, hard to bend. I am a pliable branch who sees the whole picture.

She is not as sentimental. I cherish each little present placing them on my memory shelf. She showers me with love with words of advice. I shower my daughters and daughter-in-law with love, hugs, kisses and advice when asked! You know, darlings, we are also our father's daughters!

As you know, I draw my Good Morning Stories from my past experiences. I begin searching my mind, days before I put my fingers on the keyboard, for an eventful experience that has had a profound, loving or funny impact on my life. I was planning on writing a delightful mother-daughter story about my daughter and myself; but missing my mother as I do today, I decided I would backtrack to tell a story that took place a few years ago and add a present story that relates to a recent conversation between my mother and me.

The mother-daughter relationship is complicated. Most all of them have hills and valleys. Mine is no different.

My mother was very strong and controlling and I was not a meek shrinking violet by any stretch of the imagination. That is not to say that I was disrespectful. I honored my parents. I just had my vision of who I was. My mother, on the other hand, had her vision of who I should be!

As I matured into adulthood I was sure I was not a clone of my mother. I was my own woman. As it turns out, at my mother's ninetieth birthday party luncheon with fifty women in attendance to include her friends, granddaughters, nieces and my darling daughters-in law, I came to the realization "I am my mother's daughter in more ways then not."

We sat at one long table upstairs in a private dining room at Gibson's, a favorite restaurant in my beautiful Chicago. My mother and brother sat at one end and my husband, Shelly and I at the other. I glanced at the setting and I could not make up my mind what was more beautiful, the gorgeous flowers down the length of the entire table or my mother's friends from ages eighty-eight to ninety-six! As lunch progressed with abundant laughter and chatter from everyone permeating the room, I decided to stand up and ask each of the women to tell a story about my mother.

I sat listening intently as her girlfriends and our family told stories about my mother and her life. I realized through those stories I was so much like my mother. "Why did this revelation take me so long," I asked myself, as I sat listening. I think it was because so many stories hit me at once and they just fit into 'a small book' in my mind and the full story and picture of my mother suddenly came to light!

When it was my turn, the last to speak, I stood up and said, toasting my mother with a glass of champagne in hand poised directly at her: "I AM my mother's daughter!"

My mother stood up and toasted me, "Your toast is the best toast a mother can receive from a daughter."

I remember my eyes flooding with tears of joy and I felt such deep love and respect for 'this mother of mine.' I remember saying a little prayer to myself, "God, bless my darling mother and keep her safe and in good health."

My mom is now ninety-four and has weathered so much in the past year. She has suffered with a broken hip requiring two surgeries and a broken wrist and almost choked to death! She should not be alive, but alive she is! And God is granting my prayer.

Before leaving for California we were chatting together in her apartment and I asked her if she would mind sharing her thoughts with me on womanly topics. I said to her, "Mom, you are a sage dripping with advice. Would you share you wisdom with my darlings?".

"This will be fun. I would love to!"

I asked her questions on several topics. I did not have to write them down because they are all stored away neatly in my head, after all, I am my mother's daughter!

Here are my questions followed by her replies:

"Mom, give me your advice on what gives a woman her style."

"The basis of style is being able to understand who you are and how you want to represent yourself. It is a combination of many things. It is 'your look' that sets you apart from everyone else; it is your taste in books, your taste in women friends, your taste in your home, it is your values; your vivre de life. As you get older, dear daughter of mine, don't be afraid; move with grace and expose your wisdom."

"What about gossip among women, mom?"

"If you tell one woman, a secret is no longer a secret!" She said with a twinkle in her beautiful blue eyes.

"Mom, what if you know people are talking about you?"

"That's an easy one! If people are talking about you, you know you are interesting!"

"Mom, sometimes our children disappoint us. How do we deal?"

"This is an old saying, but a true saying: " One mother can take care of ten children. Ten children cannot take care of one mother. You give your children their roots and then their wings. It is the progression of life.

"Mom, what is your philosophy on friendship?"

"Have women friends from all walks of life. A clique becomes a bore. And, don't expect from most and you will not be disappointed."

"Mom tell me your secret on aging beautifully."

"I exercise my mind; not my body!"

"What about skin care, mom?"

"Use olive oil on your skin. Stop with the facelifts! You cannot hide age. Your lines show your life, your persona. Smile!"

"You and dad had a wonderful marriage. What do you attribute this to?"

"You know what I told you when you were to become a bride, a woman makes a marriage. Those five words are worth their weight in gold, in more ways than one!!"

We laughed!

"Mom what do you attribute to your longevity?"

"Sometimes I wish it was not so long!! I suppose it may be my lack of fear and my love of laughter. And you! You keep telling me, "MOM, I NEED YOU!"

I did not answer. I just smiled. I got out of my chair, wrapped my arms around "this mother of mine" and whispered in her ear, "I do need you."

She looked at me with her twinkling blue eyes, gave me a kiss and said, "I need you more."

We shared a smile.

I wanted to end the conversation on an upbeat note. And so I said, "Mom, in another year you will be ninety-five! I am going to give you another beautiful luncheon. This time I am going to invite my girlfriends who know and truly revere you! It will be a great day. You will be the Queen Bee! Together we will write your life message that you can share with all at your table. You will speak your thoughts and everyone will leave your ninety-fifth birthday party feeling marvelous, and the buzz will be out in the city that you are one 'Grande Dame!"

I could tell she was excited and looking forward. Next year on Good Morning Story I am hopeful that I will be able to share pictures with you and "her story" told in her words.

Photography by Hallie Duesenberg

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