1. Here’s a story that more than aptly illustrates my mom’s parenting skills:
My mom was always afraid I would get dissipated when I slept over my girlfriend’s houses. This was kind of a joke since in 5th grade I weighed 110 pounds and was 5 foot tall. I was more like an overgrown lummox than a wilting, delicate flower.
2. Along with monitoring my “dissipation quotient,” she also made sure my brother and sister and I ate well-balanced, home cooked meals. No fast food for us. Canned string beans abounded, as did liver and onions, three glasses of homogenized milk a day and canned peaches. I “out-smarted” her. Every morning during junior high school, I made my own breakfast of scrambled eggs and orange juice. After throwing both the eggs and the juice into the disposal, I left the dirty dishes and frying pan in the sink as proof of my healthy eating. And at lunch, I skipped the entrees and salad options offered and consistently chose only cherry pie for lunch. I showed her.
3. My mom was not perfect – she was always late to either drop me off or pick me up. Which infuriated me. How could anyone so bright have absolutely no conception of time? But when my friends in 5th grade turned against me and started a group called RAILS – Revolution Against Iris Levine – she surprised me with her steely logic. She displayed no excessive coddling. With a smile plastered on her face, she firmly put me on the yellow school bus each morning with the reminder that whatever I was feeling had been felt before and I could get through it. I did get through it and she was right.
4. As my mother got older and the losses started piling up, she never stopped participating in life enthusiastically. She is great on the computer – searching the internet, composing poems that have actually been published and designing cards and invitations to events like her Columbia grade school reunion. She has and uses her I Phone – not to just stay in touch by phone, but to text and to snap photos.
5. At age 89, my mom starred in a commercial for Cincinnati’s art-deco train station – Union Terminal. In spite of her being hearing impaired. The ad was in support of a much-needed levy needed to pass to update the aging train station’s structure. The levy passed resoundingly. With great credit to her.
6. My mom writes letters-to-the-editor, to congressman, and to senators vociferously defending her political beliefs. She avidly follows the Cincinnati Reds – win or lose. She is not a fair weather fan like me. She actually knows the names and positions of the players. I suspect she even reads the Cincinnati Enquirer sports page.
7. She sends gift and flower arrangements always and on time for Chanukah, the Jewish New Year, birthdays, anniversaries and any Hallmark occasion – Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Thanksgiving.
8. My mom wields her brush quite often to paint miniature size, floral still-life pictures. She also recalls details of things I’ve long forgotten. Daily, without fail, she plays the word game “Jumble.” And daily, without fail, she figures it out. And, unbelievably, accomplishes a feat I have never been able to master: she balances her checkbook to the penny every month.
9. The greatest lessons my mom has taught me: Be patriotic. Be philanthropic. Always hope. And always cope. I’m grateful she’s been my mom and grateful for the 69 years I have had her guidance, her support and her love. And I’m wishing for 69 more.