Lessons from My Mother

While some may think it risky to throw a surprise party for a senior, my siblings and I did just that this weekend.

Over seventy friends and family members, including my older brother from California, my husband and I from Alberta, and others from across the province, travelled to Niagara for a celebration in honour of my mother’s 80th birthday.

Two observations were clear to anyone in attendance.

My mother, Wilma, is a woman beloved by many. The greetings, gifts, cards, and tributes were warm, thoughtful and heartfelt.

The second observation is that my mother is a healthy and happy woman who appears much younger than her eighty years. She radiates such joy that it is almost palpable.

The occasion of such a milestone birthday made many of us think about how blessed we are to have her as part of our lives. For me it also prompted some thinking about the many life lessons my mother has taught me along the way.

She taught me about the value and importance of kindness by teaching the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. She models it by virtue of her actions each day.

This kindness was also reflected in the volunteer work that even now remains part of her life. Growing up I had a front row seat for learning that while happiness doesn’t always come with money, it is virtually guaranteed when one gives to others and to one’s community.

My mother remains active and healthy, teaching the importance of eating well and taking care of oneself. She tries to maintain a regular exercise program even though she sometimes would rather not.

She also has embraced the concept of lifelong learning and passed it on to her five children. Her love of learning manifests itself in reading, taking courses, and study groups. Her vocabulary continues to improve as the result of her daily crossword puzzles.

Although she has always been a glass-of-water-half-full kind of person, my father unfortunately was not. That in combination with other differing values, resulted in her, some twelve years ago, making the courageous decision to leave my father after forty seven years of marriage. On her own for three years after that, she became more independent while taking courses, volunteering, supporting and caring for her children and grandchildren, and continuing to learn and grow. Fully expecting to be on her own for the rest of her life, and quite content with that, she unexpectedly reconnected with Joe, a man she had known for years. She fell in love, they bought a home, and have been together ever since. He’s good to her - kind, thoughtful, respectful, and they genuinely seem to enjoy one another’s company. The fact that he’s nine years younger than her just seems to be icing on the cake.

The lesson there of course is that it’s never too late to change your life. Sometimes you just let go of the trapeze even if you don’t know exactly where you’ll land.

All in all, the lessons I’ve learned from my mother have been extraordinarily valuable but by far the most important is what she’s taught me about unconditional love.

Regardless of what has, or will happen in my life, I always know for sure that my mother loves and accepts me just as I am. She is our family’s number one fan who praises us for our successes and cheers us when we are down.

Without a doubt it is, and continues to be, the greatest gift a parent can give their child….the gift and the lesson of unconditional love.

Posted on 11-10-08


Unfortunately I was unable to make your mother’s 80th party but wanted to tell you that your article was a beautiful gift to your Mom.  Yes, she is really a terrific lady.  I have only known her a few short years and she is one of the most caring people I have ever known.  We can all learn valuable lessons of life from Wilma.  Every time I speak with her I come away with some food for thought or an inspiration.  She definitely has a special way about her and bonus she does not look or act 80.

•Posted by Lyn Gasbarini  on  11/11/08  at  12:44 PM

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