I Remember Mama

When we say yizkor and remember our deceased relatives, I always find it important to think of my parents and my relationship with them. Some times I focus on the good times and sometimes I think about what I wish might have been. Sometimes I feel bad about the missed opportunities that were, and, more frequently, of what they are missing now.

However this time I had a very different experience. Although my mother and I were not as close as we could have been and although she often did not understand the decisions I made, it suddenly struck me that I was, to a great extent, living a life based on things that she taught me, things that she found important.

For example, my mother had a sense of what was appropriate—in behavior, in dress, in speech. I realized that to a very great extent, I have adopted those standards as my own. My mother taught me to be polite and to not be self-promoting and those too are things I try to remember. She valued education and family. Certainly I share that with her.

So it came to me that despite all of the negatives in our interactions, she was an effective teacher. Not only did I learn what she taught me, but I value it and there is a small feeling of satisfaction in acting as she might want me to act.

Someone once wrote that mothers have no idea of the strength of the impact they have on their children. I suppose that is so. But I am willing to bet that in many cases neither the mother nor the children are aware of how strong the messages mothers give are and how much children take them to heart.

note: title refers to 1950s TV show http://www.fiftiesweb.com/tv/i-remember-mama.htm

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  1. Susan Nolan says

    Hi Rona….

    Oh, my goodness…This is quite a column…

    It reminds me that we change our perspectives so much as we get older and wiser.

    I enjoyed reading this.


  2. Before “I remember Mama” was a TV series, it was a movie made in 1948 with Irene Dunne and Barbara BelGeddes. My own mama insisted on being called “Mother” and though not the homey immigrant saintly woman of the movie and TV show, taught me to love beauty, knowlege, and most importantly,family.



  3. Dear Rona,

    The day that this particular weblog came out, I was riding in a car with my friend Aliza and her daughter Caroline. In the course of the conversation, Caroline mentioned how various sayings and traits had been passed down from her mom. She didn’t sound quite sure that she had adopted them consciously, but she seemed ok now that they were part of her being.

    I, too, have found that as I get older, certain phrases that my mom said have miraculously appeared in my vocabulary. “Big Deal in America”, “No kuchala muchala” as well as some bona fide Yiddish expressions have begun to pop up. It comforts me to know that these words are appearing and that my mom is listening to me speak and is getting a kick out of it, from beyond.

    Stay well, love, Gail