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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Palmer


Updated: Apr 1, 2021

My mother turns 80 today. As I reflect on my relationship with her, I thought I would share what I have learned, directly and in observation, from a woman whose life spans eight decades.

Resilience. Life is not easy, but that doesn’t mean you give up or give in. Grief, loss, health, finances can bring pain, but can also serve as lessons to grow. Resilience is facing those challenges and coming through the other side. Hopefully stronger, maybe smarter, better prepared should you face strife again.

Growth. Like everyone, my mother has flaws, but she is open to learning and doing better, continuing to grow and change, overcoming what once served her, but no longer does. Old habits and ways of thinking have changed dramatically and she is always looking for ways to approach situations and relationships differently.

Devotion. My parents have been together since my mother was 12 years old. Their relationship works; it is not a perfect, but it is perfect for them. Their devotion is to their relationship and to each other has stood the test of time.

Family. Family always comes first. Always. Whether it is checking in or being together, nothing comes ahead of family. To be present in each other’s lives, to fully show up and engage, it is family bonds that sustain you.

Grandchildren. Grandchildren are magical. Years ago, my brother wrote a story about the relationship between our mother and her grandson. How this woman that he (my brother) had known his whole life become someone wholly different and magical when she was in the presence of her grandchildren. For my mother, her grandchildren give her life.

Loyalty. Loyalty to friends gives you a robust life. My mother has friendships from childhood, from the years where they were raising kids together, and newer yet no less meaningful friendships. All of these ‘aunts’ have enriched my life and set the example that women’s friendships fill you in a way no other relationships can.

Celebration. Special occasions matter. Birthdays, anniversaries and milestones are times to make people feel special. Take that time – with a well wish or card, or your presence as a present.

Present. Be present for the big and small, and for the tough stuff. Connect, show up, lean in. Be of service.

Gratitude. Every year, my mom makes holiday gifts for every nurse, front desk worker, receptionist and office worker at all of her doctors’ offices and businesses she works with. She truly realizes and values the work of those individuals, knowing they are the gatekeepers to her health and happiness.

Brisket. Keep an emergency brisket in the freezer. It sounds like a joke, but it is the truth. She always has food ready to heat and serve when there are more guests to host, more mouths to feed. Food is her love language and she is always prepared to share the love.

We are all influenced by how we were raised and by the lessons we learn along the way. For me, I have been inspired; I have learned by watching and listening. No wonder I am a connector, always with more food than we need, who prioritizes birthday messages, and being present. I learned from the best.

Happy Birthday, Mom.

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