Advice From My Mother

I’ve had a lot of time to think this past week while lying around recovering from pneumonia. Most of the time my mind has been blank, but as I regained strength I began to think of how to better take care of myself so I don’t get sick so often. This got me wondering about things my mother told me that could be helpful. Surprisingly, the list came easily:

1. Don’t drink too much in your 20’s because the older you get the more you will want.
2. There’s no cloud so black it doesn’t have a silver lining.
3. Things always look gloomier at night.
4. When you need some comfort fill yourself a hot water bottle, or draw a nice hot bath and put a washcloth over your chest.
5. As you age and you stop being able to do certain things your body adjusts by not wanting to do them.
6. Keep finding younger friends as you grow older.
7. Sometimes it helps to just have a good cry.
8. If you admit that you are feeling grumpy it helps you feel less so.
9. Nature is nurture.
10. Always have a needle threaded.
11. Prepare for the worst and expect the best.
12. One day the US will fall the way of Rome; best to be prepared by owning land.
13. If disaster strikes be ready to do any job to survive.
14. A half hour nap after lunch makes all the difference to the rest of the day.
15. There’s nothing like a good laugh.
16. As long as it doesn’t hurt anyone a practical joke is an acceptable form of rebellion.
17. Try to be good at whatever you do.
18. You don’t need all the ingredients to make a good meal; improvisation is half the fun.
19. Music is comfort food.
20. Eat grapefruit!

The one piece of advice I don’t follow is “eat grapefruit!” It’s too sour. But hey! We all have to find some way to differentiate!

Cloud at Hudson PinesWhat advice from your mother, or other, did you find useful?

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27 Responses to Advice From My Mother

  1. Wanda M Urbanski says:

    i LOVE THIS, Eileen! The older I get the greater is the need for No. 6, finding younger friends. Actually your entire list is so true. The fact that you could just whip these out shows how much you loved your mother. Great job!

  2. Wanda M Urbanski says:

    Mama was witty, had a joie de vivre about her and a generous heart. She spent money freely on those she loved. Growing up in Maine, I remember that every Christmas she’d buy me gloves which I’d promptly misplace. Finally, one Christmas, I got my gloves with this inscription on the gift card: “Lose me. We’re cheap.” I think of her every day and especially her courage, needed now more than ever in the political arena.

  3. Karen Bacon says:

    Eileen, truly amazing how you recall the wonderful advice of your mother. I love the land advice. That’s brilliant and offers insight into her thinking about Stone Barns. So amazing. The only rather healthy trick is Vitamic C and B100. It helps but not every time.

    • That’s great to hear that Vitamin C and B help you Karen. I use Vitamin C and 3-5 units of Vitamin D. That usually helps if I catch the oncoming cold early enough. Another great one, from Chinese medicine, is Gan Mao Ling!

  4. Maka says:

    I love all of them!! Great advises , wisdom in them.. Dear Eileen, hope you feel better

    • Dear Maka, as a devoted mother yourself, someday I imagine your sons will be writing down things you said, or pointing to advice you wrote in your memoir! Warmest wishes. Eileen

  5. Nika says:

    Great list, thanks for sharing this bit of wisdom from your mother with us.
    I hope you feel better as well.

  6. joan says:

    Eileen . . . I find that it was the photo of a young woman – at that moment wild and free and truly enjoying this world – that struck me so deeply. A woman like we once were — before the ups and downs of life often intervened — living in the moment.

    When it is only when – we, as daughters, are now in our 60s begin to look back with a clearer lens on our own mothers — and suddenly remember the “advice”, the words you now remembered as if it were yesterday. Only now do we seem to appreciate the good, the wonderful, in our mothers . . and understand more – that just like our own lives, we all live life with good and bad times.

    My own wish: I wish I had known my mother better. . that I had had the wisdom of now to ask the questions — the deep questions – while she was alive. I now know she was waiting — and for the most part, we are wound up in our own lives and families — and we did not become close again soon enough.

    Your story today has made me stop in place — and ponder. Somehow, I feel I am not the only one.


    • How nice to hear it was of comfort Joan. And I believe you still can find the answers from your mother. Have you ever tried writing her a letter and then just “letting the words flow from her?” I did this very effectively for about a year after my mother died. When my siblings read some of the letters they were amazed at how much her voice came through. And it was a great comfort to me. I believe you already have the answers inside you. It’s just a matter of finding the right portal. Good luck!

  7. Jacqueline Nadel says:

    Hello Eileen, I do not think to tell you that I really enjoy your blog but this one is special. I love it. Sorry to hear that you have been ill. Keep well.
    Love to you, Paul and the boys.
    Jackie Nadel

    • Hello Jackie! How nice to hear from you. We’re coming to Montreal soon with a young friend – for her 21st birthday. If there is enough time it would be fun to see you! I hope you are well.

  8. Roberta Puschel says:

    Dear Eileen, This is one of the best. But more to the point, I hope that you are recovering. How about a visit to warm Sanibel Island….it cures all ailments! hugs

    • Glad to know you are enjoying the sunny south of Sanibel Roberta! Now that I’m better I have to admit that I’m thrilled to be home with the snow! A sleigh ride should be in order tomorrow! With you and Phill could join me!

  9. damon says:

    we will go the way of Rome… fascinating . Pneumonia, my wife and I both just passed thru it, several months back- feel better!

    • Well, let’s hope not, but sometimes I have my doubts too…Glad you are your wife are well again. Warmest regards, Eileen

    • Dear Phyll, I know the loss of your mother is still very fresh. As I said to one other responder, have you ever tried writing her a letter and seeing what comes back? It’s called automatic writing. If you allow anything at all to come from your pen (or computer) it’s amazing the information you can glean, as well as the comfort. Wish you were here to enjoy a sleigh ride with me! Sometime before long I hope.

  10. Phyll says:

    Hi Eileen, sorry to hear you’re not feeling well. Really enjoyed your list of Motherly advice. I especially like #9 and seek comfort and solace in Nature whenever possible. But, like you, I don’t follow #20 (eat grapefruit.)

    My Mom gave me some good advice, too, of which I wove into her eulogy. Namely, whenever I had a school assignment or friends didn’t pick me for a team or I was feeling sad and didn’t feel like doing something or going back into the ring for whatever situation, I’d lament to her, “But, I can’t.” To which she’d say, “There’s no such thing as can’t. Say, yes, I can!”

    I wrote about this and other words of wisdom in her eulogy. And, afterward, folks wrote to our family and said how sweet her funeral was, some citing my words as the thoughts/feelings they remembered most. I shall always remember my dear sweet Mamala and her loving words of encouragement, support and belief in me. I miss her deeply—as I’m sure you miss your Mom (and Dad) too. They would want us to go on, be healthy, happy and keep their memories close to our hearts. I enjoy your blogs very much!

    • john lyden says:

      Early in my career at Cornell my senior partner went after me for no good reason and really threw me back on my heels. I told my father about the devastating episode. After listening patiently he leaned back and said “welcome to New York”. Things worked out just fine but it was a real jolt.

  11. Steve Johnson says:

    Love the photo — struck by how much you resemble your young mom — and the counsel. Trying not to dwell on the “if disaster strikes” part. Eat more (some) grapefruit! Steve

  12. louisegil5 says:

    Dear Eileen–thank you for sharing your mom’s wisdom with us. All of her suggestions are wonderful. I especially love-“music is comfort food” since I am still evolving as a senior-citizen Cellist! In addition—I do love grapefruit! 🙂 Most of all–please surrender to rest and nourishment (including listening to music). I also had Pneumonia. When my doctor walked into the treatment room, he extended his hand and I said: “I won’t shake your hand because I am afraid of giving you my bug!” He laughed and said: “don’t worry, I wash my hands all the time after seeing patients!!” So, let me add to your mom’s list if I may. WASH YOUR HANDS REGULARLY!! Love, Louise

  13. Pat Gray says:

    I can almost smell the salt air and feel the spray on my face looking at your mom throughly enjoying the moment in the photo you shared. Life is one moment after another being present and enjoying is so important. Your mother was a wise woman, as is her daughter

  14. Anita says:

    Thanks for sharing your mother’s great and intiguing list. One of the best I’ve seen.
    And though you probably already know this, the first 6-12 months after the death of important family members, the immune system is more challenged and we are prone to more illness. So take great care! And be sure not to drink too much in your 20’s :-).

  15. Mac McConnell says:

    Dear Eileen,

    I was so sorry to learn of your bout with pneumonia…..slow down and take care of yourself.

    Some day, during a trip in a southern direction, request a RIPE grapefruit; you will be pleased!

    Mac (McConnell)

  16. Joanne DePuy says:

    Eileen dear: I LOVE your mother…although I never knew her…so joyful and such a free spirit… So glad you are on the mend…as a 4 time pneumonia survivor I highly recommend a trip to La Quinta, CA…where I am now…the grapefruit fresh from trees are plentiful and DELICIOUS…why don’t you and Paul come on down…we have an empty casita!

  17. Hi Eileen,
    Hope you are feeling better. Take care to stay well all year. That you thought of your mother during your bed ridden sickness is understandable. She must have cared for you, when you were sick, as a young girl.

    Sometime, you should consider writing a story, “Conversations With Mother”, including both factual and imagined “talks”. My sweet sister compiled a pamphlet of recipes, Lebanese recipes, for all of the immediate family, after my dear mother died. My sister packaged the pamphlet of recipes, so neat, without typos, in a clear binder with a red heart sticker pinned on the cover!!

    One of my mother’s pearls of wisdom to me was, “Elaine, try to be more like me…” Perhaps, she knew it would keep her love for me, alive????

    Your photos are beautiful and restful. Please keep sharing. Feel better… rest… make a short “To Do” list…

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