My Mother’s Wisdom

“My mother … she is beautiful, softened at the edges and tempered with a spine of steel. I want to grow old and be like her.” ― Jodi Picoult

chocolate chip cookieMy mother was not a cookie baking, stay at home, mom.  In my neighborhood, growing up in the fifties, everyone else had that kind of mom.  A little part of me wished my mom was there when I got home from school…chocolate chip cookies with warm melty chocolate at the ready. But mostly, I was just proud of who she was.

air force badgeI had a witty, bright, pull herself up by her bootstraps kind of mom, who succeeded through the dint of her strength of will. She had natural gifts of leadership combined with a kind of mothering nature that worked well with young men and helped her succeed in the very masculine world of Air Force Civil Service. She was the only woman in charge of her own branch at Griffiss Air Force Base, the only female employee who was not a secretary, but had one herself.

And she really did have a spine of steel, but a tender loving heart, covered by the thick hide she had to grow to survive in a man’s world, a proudly self-proclaimed “tough nut” and a great “old broad” with a wicked sense of humor.

wisdomI have shared a number of her “wisdom sayings” in different blogs posts I have done over the years.  She had a saying for every occasion.

One of my favorites had two variations she used interchangeably.  The more Americanized version was: “If you make a doormat out of yourself, don’t be surprised when people wipe their feet on you.” The more European version was: “No one can make a doormat out of you unless first you lie down.”  I used this second version with the women in the support group I ran for battered women. We talked a lot about how to stand up for yourself…instead of lying down and taking abuse. And as you might guess my mother wasn’t a doormat…nor did she raise me to be one.

earringAnother of her sayings I used in the group came from Polish wisdom and was a fit for these women as well:  “Beware,” my mom would say, of someone who “promises you earrings, but only pierces your ears.”

But the most important aphorism Mom taught me was a guiding principle in her life. She taught me I should “not expect life to hand over to me a gold, engraved invitation.”  By this, she meant I shouldn’t hold back waiting to see if what I wanted came my way, but actively pursue my dreams. I should “seize the day” and “Give it everything you got” and “Never quit…NEVER ever, ever, quit.” Achieving in life, for my mom, was something you worked at, hard. She did. And I think I have.

Air Force bomberAs my husband, who deeply loved her, says about Mom, she was a force to be reckoned with. She was a woman with Crypto clearance who had the launch codes that could have sent SAC bombers to start a nuclear World War III. She wasn’t a “full-bird” colonel, no one saluted her, but man, she could give an order no one could refuse, or walk into a room, and with just a look, quiet dozens of my rambunctious cousins.

Yet, for all that, she brought home airmen for the holidays if they couldn’t make it home, and she gave hugs that made you feel treasured and loved. She was as loyal “as the day is long” to her friends and her family, and as fierce as a lioness to protect those she loved.

Miss you, Mom…I hope I am half “the tough old broad” you were.


About joanneeddy

Writer living in North Carolina. Originally from upstate New York. I love my family, my community, and my friends, and embrace 'living deliberately' in the world, trying to make a difference. I have written an as yet unpublished book, The Call, an epic fantasy with historical fiction and folklore elements. My blog is for other writers, for those who love a good read, and for all who, like me, are looking to find and live their call.
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29 Responses to My Mother’s Wisdom

  1. Allene says:

    Good blog! I know I couldn’t have done everything my mother did for us!
    They really were the greatest generation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Robyn Haynes says:

    A loving tribute Joanne. It brought tears to my eyes. I miss my mum too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bobbie Schofield says:

    Jo, my mother was “different” too….always at the Army….not the baking cookies type…..we were latch key and I remember wishing she’d be “like other mothers” too. I remember telling her that once, and she cried, and I felt terrible. And then I became her to my own children.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joanneeddy says:

      Funny how life turns things around on us. I did stay home in my kids early years, but they needed things and while being a minister’s family put a roof over our heads we had no “extras.” Going to work though gave my life a new meaning, especially the opportunity to serve God and “Others.” But also my change to grow and learn from other great women… You gave me that chance and taught me so much and I am grateful beyond words. You will always be “my general.”


    • joanneeddy says:

      I should add both your mother and mine gave us lots more than cookies, the stuff that sustains kids spirits and I know you did the same for Jennifer and Billy.


  4. Little Voice says:

    Beautiful tribute.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A lovely tribute, Jo, to your tough old broad mom with a heart of gold 🙂 She sounds like she was one of a kind and a great mom. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Gretchen Pepe says:

    That was my beautiful, strong Grandmother to a T. The only thing I would add is how incredibly proud she was of you and everything that you have done in this world.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Bernadette says:

    A perfect tribute – it sounds like from your description that she would have been smiling ear to ear at this salute.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joanneeddy says:

      I hadn’t thought about that, but she would. She actually had a special smile when you did something that tickled her or made her proud…and you’re right she’d be wearing it over this post. Thanks Bernadette!


  8. What a woman and example! Wow I loved reading about your special mom!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. ellenbest24 says:

    In England we would say “She had fortitude”.

    Liked by 1 person

      • ellenbest24 says:

        My Mother in law had bucket loads, it is recognisable by the ram rod straight back, the phrases punctuated with a tap on a firm surface. We may have lost ‘the look’ the one that made you flinch, stand shoulders back and carry out the request. She used words like ‘Slouch’ as in, he was a bit of one. ‘ Put your back in to it girl’ was another. No, they broke the mold when she passed. I wonder how our grandchildren will remember us…

        Liked by 1 person

      • joanneeddy says:

        Me, too! But probably not like your mother-in-law or my mom!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. joanneeddy says:

    You made me think, Ellen. I wonder how much of their fortitude was forged because as young women, faced with war at home, the men they loved off fighting, they had to “keep on keeping on” (also a mom favorite.) There was no being a slouch (she used that, too) because they faced so much, but got on with it.


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  12. spearfruit says:

    Jo, a lovely post about your mom – she sounds like one special lady – just like you. Happy Friday my friend! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Jo, I’m so glad I came to visit you tonight. This is such a lovely post and I feel better just for having read about your mother. i can’t imagine how I would have felt if I had such an inspirational person in my life. No wonder you’ve become the marvelous person you are -you had the very best of role models. Clare

    Liked by 1 person

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