My mom was a remarkable person. She was 5 feet, 6 inches tall and 105 lbs. soaking wet. A perfect, fiery, 50/50 blend of Irish and German heritage. Small in physique but a giant in stature. She raised nine children, volunteered at our church and numerous other organizations, and did all of this while working part time, contributing to the financial support of our family.
Like many parents of us baby boomers, Mom grew up during the Depression. Her dad, my Grandpa Ski, was a jack-of-all-trades, so he always had enough work to keep the family fed and often enough to help others not as fortunate.
Mom’s early childhood was a time when you made do with what you had and you were thankful for it. It was also a time when neighbors helped each other and we all realized we were in this together. Shortly after Mom graduated high school, Pearl Harbor was attacked and the U.S. entered WWII. Never one to sit around idle, Mom joined the war effort and became the local war bond queen, traveling the Chicagoland area selling war bonds. Mom sold more war bonds than any other person in all of the Chicago wards, and involved herself in just about every other war drive. My mom was a strong, independent person who had a powerful sense of family, community and country.
In 1983 my dad retired, and like so many good Midwesterners they sold the family home and moved to Florida. Unfortunately, they would only enjoy two years of retired life together. My dad was killed in an automobile accident in 1985. Mom stayed in Florida another 12 years, working in the local high school cafeteria, continuing her volunteer work and living a very independent life.
In 1997 Mom moved to California to be closer to family. It was a difficult time for her when she got to California. With her health beginning to decline, she became more and more dependent on her family and others. Her ability to live independently was diminishing and volunteering was no longer an option. Mom passed on in 2001. The last couple of years were a particular challenge for me as I attempted to give my mom the assistance she needed while still respecting and honoring her independent spirit.
In our drive to compete
We need to remember Mom, a person who has lived a life of independence, who is realizing she may need a little extra help, but is no less committed to being that independent person she has always been. We need to remember Mom and be aware of that balance of assisting while respecting and honoring a lifetime of independence and contribution.
I feel so blessed to work in an industry that brings Mom so present to my mind every day. I hope all of us will keep our own mothers at the forefront of our minds as we work to grow the industry. I hope that each and every day we will take just a few moments to center ourselves in our work by remembering Mom.