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Lessons from my mother

Lodi sons and daughters share what their mothers have taught them, from laughing to shopping.

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Haley Pitto’s mother.

Posted: Friday, May 11, 2012 8:58 am

They only had 16 years together, but Adenna Dwyer Streyle learned a lifetime of lessons from her mom

My mother taught me so much in so little time. We only had 16 years and 10 months together, but I feel her impact on my life every single day.

My mother’s name was also Adenna, so our connection began early on. My dad loved her so much that he insisted I was named after her. She didn’t have me until she was 35, and in 1964, that was old to have a baby! She would often tell me how she prayed and prayed for a girl, how much she wanted me.

She taught me unconditional love right from the beginning.

I definitely resemble her more than my father; he would say that was lucky for me. She was always playing with my hair from a very young age, and I know I got my love of hair and make-up from her. She would have been a great hairdresser. 

From the very beginning, she taught me to cook. The family always looked forward to seeing what she would cook. She loved finding new recipes and trying new things. I have my love of baking and cooking, which I know I got from her at a very young age. I have now passed that to my son, who is in culinary school. I take great pride and joy in knowing that came from me by way of her.

One of the things I know I learned from her was friendship, and how important it is. Especially girl time. She always took time for her girlfriends and loved socializing, listening to music, dancing, or just hanging out at her bestie’s house and gabbing at the kitchen table. I loved those times because often I got to go too; I was always one of the girls. No one ever had anything but wonderful things to say about my mother — how much they loved and adored her and what a sweet, kind, giving and caring person she was. I know that’s not me exactly, but I always strive to be that way.

Most of all, I think a lesson that has affected me the most was from a time a year or so before she died of cancer. She tried so hard to connect with her hard-headed, strong-willed, only-child daughter. Back then, whether it had been denial, or simply being a self centered typical teenager, I missed out on so much that she could have offered if I had only paid attention. In that way, she taught me to cherish each and every day and every opportunity to connect with our loved ones.

I try to do that now with my boys, whom I love and adore every bit as much as she adored me. They are both grown men now, and I appreciate every milestone I reach with them that she never got to share with me. I see how she lived as much as she possibly could in her brief 52 years, and I learned to live out loud and do as many of the things I want to do in life now, because we are never guaranteed an old age or even another single day.

I want to love my family, love myself and love my life each and every moment because even by her leaving, she taught me to.

I love you Mother. Happy Mother’s Day.

— Submitted by Adenna Dwyer Streyle

‘Never let them see you sweat,’ lessons from Jana Flaig’s mom

What my mom taught me:

... How to laugh;

... To never let them see you sweat;

... There are two kinds of people in this world — takers and givers;

... How to laugh;

... If you’re good enough to bed — you’re good enough to wed — so wait; 

... Never go out to the mail box without lipstick; 

... How to laugh;

... There’s more to keeping a husband than getting one;

... Being different is good; 

... How to laugh;

... Shopping is a skill — you’ve got to get it when you see it;

... How to make Hungarian fried chicken;

... Finally — how to laugh.

Jana Flaig read this list at her mother’s memorial service in November 2003. Today, she is a professional comedian and inspirational humorist. She imagines her mom at each speaking engagement, sitting in the first row, laughing.

Betsie Grimes learned to give, even in tough times

My mom, Viola Smith, taught me to love and share with others, no matter what your own circumstance.

After coming to California from Texas, we lived in tents, shacks or under trees, but my mother always shared whatever she had with others.

One year, we were finally able to rent a house so that we could have a “real” Thanksgiving. My dad invited servicemen off the street in Lodi to share our bounty. It was the beginning of World War II.

We met three or four young men and had a memorable celebration.

This was only a small example of her love, kindness and generosity for others.

She passed away in 2005 but her love and generosity still lives on in many of the lives she touched.

— Betsie Grimes

It only took Georgia Owens a lifetime to take her mother’s advice

My advice would be to pay attention in detail to what your mother tries to teach you. When I was maybe 70 years younger than I am now, Mom tried to teach me piano lessons. I am kicking myself now for not paying attention to advice she so freely gave me. I am now taking piano lessons and enjoying my time with my piano and my instructor, Samantha Opp.

— Georgia Owens

‘Don’t take things personally’ and other lessons Christy Richeson learned from Mom

Mary Amoruso has the pleasure (and pain) of being my mom. I am the middle of her three girls. She has enjoyed (and endured) our relationship for 34 years.

Here are five valuable lessons I have learned from mom.

1. Human life, in any form, is a precious gift and worth fighting for. If my mom were a writer, she would expand on Dr. Suess’ famous quote from “Horton Hears a Who.”  Mom’s version would go something like this, “A person’s a person no matter how small, old, sick, ugly, injured, fat, slow or stupid.”  Of course, Mom would pour a little sugar on that quote to sweeten it up a bit.

2. There are ways to swim right after getting a perm without getting a single strand of hair wet. Mom demonstrated this back in the 1980s while paddling around my aunt’s pool, after her “kitchen perm.”

3. Don’t take things so personally. If a friend lashes out, is a party pooper, or ignores you, it may have nothing to do with you. Maybe, just maybe, something is going on in their life that is causing them to act that way.  It could be that you offended them without realizing it.  Either way, nicely communicate your feelings to them and try to work it out.   

4. Never refer to anything you’re going to cook for dinner as “baby (fill in the blank).” I watched mom bustle around the kitchen one muggy summer day. Being a preschooler, I was almost eye-level with a pair of miniature birds defrosting on the counter. Intrigued, I asked mom what they were. “Oh, those are Cornish game hens, honey,” she answered quickly.  “What’s a Cornish game hen?” I quizzed, as any four year old would.  “Oh ... well, they’re just like baby chickens.” Mom clucked, as she scratched about the kitchen preparing dinner. That’s all I needed to hear.  I was not about to eat a “baby chicken” for dinner. Fortunately the doorbell rang and mom left the kitchen. Knowing mom couldn’t feed a family of five with just one baby chicken, I snatched one from the counter and hid it under my bed. My plan worked! She never missed it and we didn’t have “baby anything” for dinner that night!

However, my preschool brain forgot about the baby chicken under my bed. It took about two hot summer weeks to expose my rotten little secret. Mom couldn’t figure out why it smelled like “something had died” in our bedroom. She literally sniffed around our room like a bloodhound and found the foul bird wrapped in bloated plastic under my bed. Surprisingly, I never got in trouble for that one. Honestly, I think it freaked her out.

5. Kids make their own choices. All you can do is say, “I didn’t raise her that way,” and love her anyway. I have made some really wonderful choices — and I have made some extremely unwise decisions. My mom has not always understood me, appreciated my tastes or agreed with my decisions. There are times when she’s felt the need to say, “I don’t know where she got that!” or the more often used, “I did not raise her that way!”  However, my mom has never once stopped showing me love. She has never once stopped talking to me. She has never once refused to give me her ear, dry my tears or let me ask for forgiveness. And she has never once not forgiven me. I promise to never give her credit for my secret love of tie-dye,  freaking out dad by wearing a fake nose ring at 18, or dying my hair blue when I turned 30.  However, I will give her credit for raising me to fiercely love my three boys, standing firm in my beliefs and never giving up.

— Christy Richeson

Maggie Creamer gets lessons on everyday living

“If this is the worst thing that happens to me today, then it’s been a good day .”

My mom said this phrase consistently throughout my childhood, whether it was about breaking a glass, waiting for an hour at a cellphone store or an expensive car repair.  

This lesson has reverberated throughout my life, because it has taught me to not get worked up about the little things that are not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

As I get older and continuously ponder how fortunate I am to be able to support myself (especially as a 26-year-old in this economy) and have such wonderful family and friends, this saying is always able to ground me.

If I break my digital camera, I take a second to realize that many people can’t afford to capture their special life moments (let alone have a computer to upload and edit the pictures). If I burn my dinner, this saying reminds me that I am lucky to be able to go out and grab a bit to eat.

With so many things going on in life, it is so easy to let something unexpected or bad news sidetrack your day. So I thank my mom for the great gift of trying to find the positive in everyday events. Love you, Mom.

— Maggie Creamer

Haley Pitto’s mother, friend and hero

She listens to my problems and is full of positive support. She understands and she is always there for me. I am lucky to have someone who is both a close friend and a mother. Not everyone is lucky enough to have that kind of a relationship.

I could find numerous words to describe the type of person mother is, but the one that stands out above all the rest is “extraordinary.” She has cared for me throughout my entire life. When I was growing up, she was always the one doing my laundry, taking me to taekwondo lessons and to the doctor when I was sick, making  my lunch for school every day, putting notes in my lunchbox on the days I was sad or worried about something. She made snacks when I had sleepovers, fixed my clothes when I ruined yet again another pair of pants from my clumsiness, cooked for our family, helped with book reports, cleaned the house, did the yard work, and was a supportive wife and mother. I don’t know how she managed to do all the things she did so well, and still have time for herself.

My mother is my rock; she keeps me strong and never stops believing in me. Whenever something exciting in my life happens, she’s always there cheering for me. When there is a crisis in my life, she is the first person I turn to for support. I have watched many friends walk in and out of my life, and not come back, but my mother is different. For the past 19 years of my life, she has stood by me and never let me down. No matter how many times we disagreed or I copped some snarky attitude, we were always close. She forgives me when I’m wrong, and believe me, that is 99 percent of the time. She understands me and knows me better than anyone else. She has complete faith and trust in me to make the right decisions in my life.

Every day, I think about how lucky I am to have a mother who loves me as much as mine does. There have been many times when I took her love for granted. I think about those times often and wish I could take them back. I cannot imagine my life any differently without her in it.

If it was not for my mother, I would not be the person I am today. I have learned many lessons in life from her over the years and I’m glad for each. My mother is the strongest woman I know, and for that I look up to her. She’s not just my mother, she’s my hero.

— Haley Pitto

William Van Amber Fields gained the gift of Holy Scriptures

My mother is 92 years old and I am 70, and we’ve been close friends all of my life. I am proud of that. My mother was born in 1919 and has seen a lot of history flow under the old bridge, and much knowledge and wisdom comes from living that long. Needless to say, I’ve learned many lessons from my sweet old mom.

From the earliest days, I can remember, around 3 or 4 years old, I can clearly recall my mother reading to me. She had a very nice Bible her father had given her at graduation and it had many maps, diagrams and renderings of all the famous biblical stories, which she read and explained to me, well before I had started school. This had a profound affect on me and set in motion a life long love of the Holy Scriptures.

My dad always said no better gift is given than that of the knowledge of God and the wisdom of Christ Jesus, and Mom and he gave that gift by sharing the word of God with us kids from the beginning.

I am very grateful for having a God-fearing, committed and loving mom and dad. Indeed it is the richest of all natural resources and, like wisdom, more valuable than silver and gold. I love them very much.

— William Van Amber Fields

Dora Nevharth Fleck remembers dumplings and custard

It was there in the kitchen that my mom would be

Making dumplings or kuchen — can’t you just see.

A table full of kuchen made with custard and peach

I loved every one, it was such a treat.

If I needed some hemming or even a dress

She was always there to make one of the best.

The garden was full of flowers to grow

Her beautiful roses were there to show.

She taught me when others were sick or blue to give them a visit because she was caring and true.

But the best gift my mom had to give me

was to know the Lord and a Christian be.

— Dora Nevharth Fleck

Delores Chavez’ mother taught her how to trust her own son’s choices

It was the Vietnam era. One of my brothers and I were in college and anti-Vietnam. My father was pro-Vietnam and my mother was a woman, and a mother above all things, guided by her heart. She was fiercely protective of her children.

When my brother Gabe decided he would enlist after high school, we saw what she was made of.

I was on Gabe’s case relentlessly, offering every argument why he should not enlist. Finally, one day it all came to a stop. In a booming voice, my mother called me aside.

“Do you think I want him to go to war? I’m his mother, but if that’s what he thinks he should do, that’s what he will do. Did anyone try to stop you from going to college to become a teacher instead of a lawyer as your father wished? No, we did everything to support you. And that’s the way it’s going to be for Gabe, too.”

I remember the moment I took my stand as a mother, which haunted me later when there were questionable friends and activities that tested my resolve, especially a decision my son made much later on.

My son was a freshman in high school and his progress report indicated he was failing two classes. My ex-husband, my son and I had a parent teacher conference. It was evident that one of my son’s teachers was one of the worst I’d met. I knew I could go to the school board and get him out of the class, but I left the decision up to my son. I also told him that he knew what it took to get good grades, that he could continue on the path he was on, get kicked out of gifted classes and possibly not even graduate from high school. But if that was his choice, I was ready to back him up.

My son chose to stay with the same teacher and to improve his grades. Eventually he graduated with honors with an engineering degree from University of California, Los Angeles. He got a job with NASA. All should have been perfect, but I could sense that his heart wasn’t in it.

One day, my son told me he decided to join the Navy. My heart stopped and yet I said nothing, hoping this was just a passing fancy. Of course, I knew better of my son. He had always been interested in the Navy, and I knew what my response should be. But I just couldn’t help myself; I had to try to stop him.

With my mother near me, I pleaded, “Mi hijo, if I were to object, would it make a difference?”

“No, Mom, it would not,” he responded.

Beside me, I saw the tears in my mother’s eyes — tears for her daughter, tears for her grandson whom she would miss dearly.

He was deployed when she died. As close as they were, he did not get to come to the funeral. In many ways, I am not the woman my mother was. And yet, knowing how life works in mysterious ways, I may get another chance.

— Delores Chavez

Kathy Harrell taught her daughter the treasure of unconditional love

I have to say that my mom taught me unconditional love, and how to be a great Mom.

Manners — we all have excellent manners and are very polite.

She taught us the Golden Rule and that things happen for a reason, so when life has you struggling, something better is on the way.

My mom stopped working outside the house to be a full time stay-at-home mom and I know that wasn’t easy. She taught me sacrifice! She taught me kindness and generosity. She is giving with charities, as well as with her loving support. I live about four hours away, but we talk on the phone every day. I love her and am grateful to her!

— Cindy Harrell



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