You are a committed band! We asked for a gift – a “great lesson” – that your mother gave you that you cherish today, and you offered examples of grace, beauty, tenacity and humor.
I am grateful – and speechless – to read your responses. We’ve printed a selection, and I hope they leave you as touched and hopeful as I was.
And for you moms: enjoy your day! Your children, it’s clear, carry a bit of you with them.
‘Great lessons’ from our moms
“My mum told me to see how a guy’s dad treats his mum to figure out how he’ll treat me – 51 years of happy marriage later, I can say she was right.”
– Selma’s gift to Marilyn G. in San Diego
“My mother’s mother raised 5 children during the Great Depression, and she taught me to care for and reuse things rather than replace them.”
– Pauline’s gift to Pat H. in Royal Oak, Michigan.
“There’s always time to enjoy a cafecito – a Cuban-style espresso – together at least once a day with family or friends (or more in my mother’s case!)”
– Elina’s gift to Joseph R. in Los Angeles
“Mom kept our door open for our friends, for visitors, for people who needed a place to stay in all kinds of conditions – great as a kid, with some really weird people living there a bit, but that are life changing as an adult and in our family.”
– Johanna’s gift to Kirk B. in Bozeman, Mt.
“The strength of perseverance that I exercise in my daily life as a teacher comes from the gift that my mother shared with me when she raised me alone in the 1970s.”
– Elaine’s gift to Nigel W. in Ashland, Oregon.
“Passion for acquiring knowledge – I remember trying to match the stride of my mother, a 6ft woman with an Afro (read: 1980), walking to the public library which was several city blocks.”
– Tyler’s gift to Deva F. in San Diego
“How to endure, persevere and thrive against the odds – when pressed, tenacity can often help you.”
– Carrie’s gift to Mark B. of Washington, DC
“Have a very powerful searchlight when sailing into a new port at night – it’s literal but it could be quite metaphorical.”
– Billie’s gift to Michael V.
“My mother taught me, through her regular actions, how to do everything possible to connect with other people – across social divides – to put others at ease and uplift them.”
– Claire’s gift to Chiara C. De Durango, Colo.
“Mom shared her love, knowledge and respect for the natural world, resulting in four very impactful and dedicated scientists and two artists, all of whose work is intrinsically linked to making the planet a safer place. , better and more connected.”
– Margaret’s gift to Liza M. in Santa Fe
“She showed me that racism was absurd and diabolical.”
– Paul E., Stanford, Calif.
“Finding God, Great Spirit, Love in Nature”
– Eila’s gift to Kirsi J. in Pittsburgh
“Recovering from tuberculosis that nearly killed her in her late teens, she taught me the value of never giving up when the going gets tough.”
– Florence’s gift to Tom T.
“Nature is so beautiful and amazing…everything we see around us is a gift to be enjoyed!”
– Conover’s gift to Aileen G of Seattle
“Don’t give up on something you love doing just because the leader/teacher/coach/authority is a jerk.”
– Peggy’s gift to Sweeney W.
“She let me try anything when I was a kid except burn down the house, which is reflected in my approach to this day – and what my wife might say is embodied in the frequent statement ‘Oh fuck, I can build one of these but much cheaper!'”
– Mary’s (aka “Big Red”) gift to Ritchie B.
“I learned to cherish the damn healthy French-Canadian DNA she gave me.”
– Martha’s gift to Lee BD of Plantation, Fla.
“My mum made sure that me and my siblings loved and enjoyed nature and the outdoors from a young age and I’m so grateful for that.”
– Kelly’s gift to Phoenix M. from Ramsey
Editor’s prerogative: My siblings, when they found out what was going on, piled in with their only lesson from mom. I couldn’t risk family discord by omitting them. Here’s to you, Rosemary!
“The JOYFUL importance and obligation of civic duty and civic relations – voting, donating blood, checking on elderly neighbors, addressing grocery store cashiers by name.”
– Rosemary’s gift to Marianna F. in Durango, Colo.
“Mom instilled in me an interest and appreciation for the foods and traditions of other cultures.”
– Rosemary’s gift to Kara C. in San Francisco
“If you see me coming, step aside: if you see me coming, MOVE!”
– Rosemary’s gift to Gregory F. in Berkeley, California.
The photo above shows my mother watching her first grandchild for the first time – my son who is now 17. Douglas Fischer/EHS