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This Mother’s Day, I wanted to tell you how much I love you and reflect on how much I have learned from you.
First, let me tell you how much I envy your energy and grit. No matter what challenges life throws at you, you jump right back up on your feet like a cat!
As a parent, when juggling work and family life overwhelms me, I stop to pause and wonder…”How did mom pick up the pieces after (my brother) Billy died?”
I learned some powerful life lessons from you the day Billy died and in the days, weeks, months, years, then decades that followed.
Inner strength and resilience (yours!).
And, life is short, make the most of it.
Through you, I learned that anything is possible if you set your mind to it. Who else has a mom who has worked as (or owned) a(n):
- children’s clothing store (and designed all of the clothes)
- antiques business
- cocktail waitress
- flower arranger
- optometrist’s assistant
- real estate agent
- private chef
- highly successful kitchen and bath designer
- artisan’s consignment store featuring local artisan’s creations; and
- real estate investor
The list goes on, but what sticks with me the most is your can-do attitude. If it can be done, you make it happen.
You are fearless and unstoppable. Even after a near-fatal car accident–you bounced back only to be stronger.
On the home front, as a single parent, you taught me and my sister the joy of reading. Countless trips to the local library–what a treat! By the way, your disdain for television seems to have rubbed off on us, ha!
Although I still struggle with being as organized as you are, I learned the value of a home-cooked meal and spending time with family and friends around a dinner table.
Women Can Do Anything!
You are par excellence the queen of home improvement projects–this before the advent of Home Depot and DIY! Thanks to your construction industry experience, you can hold your own in a lumber yard when ordering materials.
You constantly showed me and my sister that women can do anything.
Need an affordable house in “The Hamptons”? No problem–$3,900 bought a turn of the last century farmhouse. The only challenge? It needed to be moved off the lot. Problem solved–you bought a lot and paid movers to remove the house. Oh, and even that you did in style–I still remember being part of the procession!
Pesky trees? No problem….give you a chainsaw and voilà, those tree limbs are GONE.
By the way, people think I’m strange because I’m not afraid to whip out a chainsaw and trim magnolia tree branches. I owe this fearlessness to YOU!
Landscaping? Mom’s got it covered.
Need to re-sheetrock walls and ceilings? Paint a whole house? No problem.
Mom, sweat equity is your middle name.
All of your endeavors prove to me that women can do anything they set their minds to–thank you!
Parenting & Grandparenting
All of this energy, and we haven’t even talked about how you raised two girls as a single mom.
You battled a constant parade doctor’s appointments for our ear infections, tonsillitis, mystery lump in my sister’s neck.
Lesson learned: Get a second opinion if your pediatrician isn’t equipped to diagnose a medical issue and don’t be afraid to question medical authority. Twice I have followed my instincts and sought treatment for potentially life-threatening conditions when N. was a baby.
Oh, and did I mention what a great cook you are? To this day I dream about your homemade manicotti.
When I think about Sunday dinner, I can smell your aromatic pot roast and taste your mashed potatoes. What is the secret to that pot roast gravy, Mom?
Birthday parties. To this day, I still tell friends about the guitar-shaped ice cream cake you made for my 9th birthday. I have a picture of that birthday party–one of the only ones where I am wearing a pink dress.
Education. You taught me how to stand up for my education at the early age of 10 when I was bored out of my mind in Reading class.
Thanks to your guidance, I was a trailblazer who battled the school system for permission to take AP European History in 10th grade.
Real Estate. Everything I know about buying and selling real estate, I learned from you. Enough said.
Grandparenting 101. You could write the book.
You have always been there when I needed help with the boys. You listened with baited breath to every milestone report.
Thanks to you, we finally solved the puzzle behind M’s faltering grades in elementary school. I was heartbroken when M finally admitted that the words on one page in a book were floating over to the next page in the book.
Each time I tell people about his vision therapy and how it changed M’s life, I give credit back to you for steering me there.
Over the years, the kids looked forward to your care packages packed with holiday treats.
Lessons You have Taught Your Grandkids?
Independence. With your guidance and encouragement, I let the kids fly unaccompanied to visit you. They loved it and are now seasoned domestic and international travelers.
Patience. Yes, patience. You encouraged Nick to practice driving and went out on the road with him when I was still nervous. That boosted his confidence — I am sure he passed the driving test thanks to your trust in him.
Shopping. You have taught M the value of shopping around for the best deal. I definitely would not have had your grandmotherly patience to shop for sneakers!
Behavior. Good behavior is expected and rewarded. Rewards can include going out for sushi dinner.
Well, I could go on, but these are just a few reasons why I love you so much.
Mom, although I do not express my appreciation to you often, know that I am forever bragging about my smart and talented mom who raised us on a shoestring budget.
Inner Strength and Resilience
My biggest takeaway from our family losing Billy is that life is short, so make the most of it.
In the days, weeks, months, and years that followed Billy’s death, I saw how you mustered the strength and courage to move on and raise me and my sister as a single parent. You poured all of your love into us. You encouraged us to do big things.
The biggest test of your inner strength and resilience though was your recent battle with cancer.
The way you insisted on getting an abdominal scan to rule out additional cancer — which led to discovering another life-threatening crisis looming — to keeping a positive outlook and soldiering on through major surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation for almost a year — reminds me so much of Grandpa Kahn.
In Japan, we call this gaman, or perseverance. Mom, you are the poster woman for ‘gaman.’ You are a cancer survivor / warrior and your take charge attitude even in the throes of a life threatening medical condition is no surprise after seeing how you have responded to all of life’s curve balls.
So, Mom, thank you for all of these life lessons, for being you, and Happy Mother’s Day!!
Betsy Meyer, the Fiber Artist
So, as you can tell, my mom is a very special woman. Here’s an excerpt from her artist’s statement:
My adventures in weaving caught me by surprise when, after retiring, I was drawn into a Saori Weaving Studio and was invited to choose some fiber and try out a floor loom. As I pushed the shuttle back and forth, sending bursts of color across the black warp threads, I soaked up the philosophy of Japanese weaving—there are no mistakes, only happy accidents.
This was heresy! Weaving as I knew it, revolved around the practice of dutifully reproducing error-free, complicated patterns that involved more patience and math skills than I possessed. Instead, this was fun! I immediately signed up for a four-day intensive workshop and learned everything I needed in order to strike out and explore the unlimited world of free-form weaving. My brand new Saori loom was on the moving van when I relocated to Asheville, North Carolina, two weeks later.
I invite you to check out Betsy Meyer’s fiber art work which has been featured on Artsy Shark.