http://www.nextavenue.org re-posted this piece once again, originally written in 2015 in honor of Mother’s Day and my mom.
Their title: My Mother, My Inspiration…
You remember the phrase our parents used to say, “Do as I say, not as I do?” Here are some “Do as I say” edicts spoken by my Mother:
-Sit up straight.
-Walk looking up, not down at your feet. (My sister Linda stepped on a nail when she tried that!)
-Your face is going to freeze like that.
-Don’t talk to strangers.
-Yes you are going with me to so and so’s house. Why? Because I said so.
-Go to school. If you still feel sick in a few hours, call me.
-Play nice with others. Treat them as you want to be treated.
-Put on lipstick. You never know who you are going to meet.
There were 25 people at Mom’s 95th birthday February 2nd. It was a joyous, energized and eclectic occasion filled with relatives and friends, old and young, gay and straight, black and white. People couldn’t wait to hug and kiss her and tell stories about where they met and how she inspires them.
Linda and I are in the most enviable position of being able to focus, and change, the second half of the phrase ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’ We now tell ourselves, as we navigate through our lives, ‘do as she does’ .
I bet some people look at Mom’s wonderful smile and her ‘in the moment’ energy and think, “Wow, this woman has had an easy, happy life.” From loosing both her parents by the age of 12, raising three children with no child support, to the loss of one of her daughters, how wrong they would be.
Author Vivian Greene wrote: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.”
This is how Mom chooses to dance:
-By not putting herself down, beating herself up or saying negative things that demean who she is.
-By never saying, ‘why me?’
-By accepting that “this is the way life is.”
-By recognizing the good in others and treating everyone as an individual. She still tells Linda and me not to speak to strangers, but she never meets a stranger. It doesn’t matter if it is a clerk in a store or the person in the auto detailing shop, the first thing she’ll ask is their name.
-By never forgetting about the little girl who lives within her. She brings her out to play. When I called the other night, she told me she was watching a ‘penguin movie’ and could not talk. She failed to hang up the phone properly so I was able to listen to her laugh, all by herself, while watching Happy Feet on TV.
-By repeating daily, “Some one up there is watching out for us and I’m so GRATEFUL.” Grateful being the optimum word.
-By getting out of her house and engaging in life. “I have to see people every day.”
-By saying, “Exercise. I notice one of the first things to go are your legs.” Mom rides a stationary bike at a gym almost every day.
-By carrying herself with dignity and grace with her head held high. And I don’t remember her ever stepping on a nail!
-By putting her lipstick on before she walks out of the house!
Do what she does? You bet. I’m learning how to dance in the rain.
One of my goals is to celebrate my 95th birthday, happy and healthy, with family and a group of eclectic friends, while wearing a brilliant shade of red lipstick!
How about you?
I’ll take relationship over bottom line any day! I wish I could take full credit for the title.
A friend of mine, who was the VP of Human Resources for a Fortune 500 company, expressed this point after I told her the story I’m about to tell you:
Mom’s financial adviser who has handled her accounts for over 35 years called to say that his company (which I won’t name but whose initials are ML) would no longer manage accounts smaller than a certain amount. Mother’s remaining savings are below that level. Unbeknownst to us, he had grandfathered her account 5 years ago. But if Linda and I would contribute to Mother’s portfolio to the tune of $120,000 ML would be glad to keep us as clients. We would have to make other arrangements with a different brokerage house if the answer was no!!! Time limit for getting out, “Three months should be sufficient.”
The Zitron/Bailey girls hit the roof. Unfortunately for ML, they did not know they were dealing with two people who had been in the customer service business (archaic words to be sure) for many years. If we were going down, we were going down swinging!
We first called the ML office in Alexandria to verify the ‘rule’ told to us by Mother’s adviser. Yes, it was the rule but there was an alternative available which no one bothered to explain.
The more we thought about it the angrier we got. The decision was made to discontinue our relationship with ML period.
I called the financial adviser to formally express our displeasure as to how everything went down. His response: “This is the USA and a free enterprise system and a corporation has the right to make any rules they choose to compete.” He’s right. Years of relationship building meant nothing. It was all about their bottom line.
Shortly after that conversation, I received a call from his boss. “Why are you calling me?” I asked. “The limit your financial adviser gave you as to how much money we would manage in a portfolio has doubled since his initial conversation with you. We believe that your Mother would be better served at an institution that is closer to you.” “Do you know where I live?” I said. “Somewhere in Florida, I imagine.” ” I live in Virginia. My financial adviser is located in Dallas Texas. And as quickly as I can, my mother’s adviser will be located in Dallas Texas too.” I hung up on him.
Together Linda and I called ML’s customer relations line and asked to be put through to the President’s office or to his Executive Assistant. We know from our days at AT&T and Lucent Technologies that filing a formal complaint starting at the President’s level was serious business. “Oh yes Mrs. Zitron and Mrs. Bailey,” the customer service rep said, “we take these sort of complaints very, very seriously. You will be contacted within 48 hours by a special representative.” At least that felt good!
HAVE YOU HEARD FROM THEM? NEITHER HAVE WE!! That was 2 weeks ago.
What has happened to customer relationships and loyalty? Are we the only generation that expects to be treated with respect and dignity? Please say it isn’t so.
As far as Linda and I are concerned the above scenario smacked of discrimination and a slight form of elder abuse. I’m telling everyone I know about what happened, including Michelle Singletary at http://www.washingtonpost.com
After all was said and done I began to think of the ‘what ifs’.
My 97 year old Mom had no one to help her navigate this process?
Linda and I were not named on her accounts?
Mother had not named us power of attorney?
I, or Linda, did not have a relationship with another financial institution?
Fortunately my adviser is an independent financial adviser and broker. He makes his own rules. Of course he would take Mom’s account. He helped restore our faith that maybe the bottom line to some businesses is not as important as the relationships they build.
I am asking all of you to please ask your own WHAT IFs…and take any necessary steps that will always keep you and your family empowered over any corporation who is looking strictly at it’s bottom line.
Originally posted 2017-05-04 20:49:47.
This blog is about empowering baby boomers, physically, emotionally and creatively.
We were loud and proud in the heyday of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s It’s time we were again. This blog is also about breaking societal stereotypes on aging by bringing awareness to the forefront on who baby boomers are and who we are not.
My desire is that you will join this conversation. Along with help from you and others, including a high-heeled, gym-going, red nail polish wearing, ribbon in her hair, 93 year old woman, who happens to be my Mom, we can share tips and ideas that will propel us forward, re-shaping our own thoughts and society’s ideas about us along the way.
Stay tuned. There is lots more to come…Soon!
Originally posted 2014-01-20 00:28:50.
10 Steps to Renewal at any Age
Renewal, what a great word. I wonder if we stop thinking about renewal, OUR OWN, after a certain age? Do you ever think about renewal and refreshing your life?
There is so much talk about meditation as a good way to refresh. And I agree, if I could shut my swirling mind off for awhile! So, I wondered, what renews me?
10 Steps to Renewal at any Age
Here are five of my personal favorites:
- April Fool’s Day. One of my favorite days. It’s right around the corner. Why not think of something to do that will get a giggle out of you and whomever you ‘fool.’ I get Jake every year. He hates bugs so at the right time I scream, “You have a spider crawling on you!” Then I stand back and watch him try to find the spider and get it off him! It’s a riot. Oh boy, I can’t wait! (Don’t tell him!!)
- The Gotcha’ game. Walk up to someone and say, “You have a spot on the front of your shirt.” When they look down to see where it is you take the side of your index finger and gently tap them on the underside of their nose and say, “Gotcha.” Ok, ok….I get it…But when was the last time you played that ‘Gotcha’?
- Play board games. Mexican Train is my favorite at the moment!
- Call someone who loves you. When I’m blue and need a virtual hug, I call my dear friends or family members just to say hello. I usually don’t tell them I’m blue. Just hearing their voices, their happiness because I called, grounds me and I’m all better.
- Be Creative. It can be the simplest thing. I have said before that Mom has the cutest little girl inside her.”Hi Mom,” I said when I called last week. “Whatcha doin’?” “I’m playing dress up in my closet.” Mother has always used her appearance as a form of creativity. It’s one of the fun steps she takes that renews her . In the March 2017 O (Oprah) magazine, (which you can only view on-line if you pay for it-I bought it), is an article, on page 117, called: ‘Does Your Style Match Your Soul.’ It speaks to how clothes reflect who we are.
Mom’s certainly do:
10 Steps to Renewal at any Age
Here are 5 more:
- Do something wonderful just for you. A friend said she always keeps her house and her car in great shape, now it is her turn.
- Play. Like you did when you were a kid. How about Zip lining? To watch one of my buddies run over a bridge and take a flying leap was priceless. It was priceless because she was making the funniest sounds while doing it. And right there her little girl showed up and so did everybody else’s kid!
- Watch a Parade.
Alexandria Virginia has 3 parades a year. Military Bands, clown cars, dogs dressed up, kids, kids and more kids. I laughed and giggled and waved and sang. I searched Google: ‘How to find parades in your area.’ There were 85,700,000 results!!
- Volunteer. Helping others is one of the best feelings in the world. Renewal at it’s finest.
- LOL. Laugh out loud. I mean really out loud. So loud that people will be looking at you wondering what’s so funny!
Please scroll down to Leave A Reply and share the steps you take. I know your reply will be appreciated by others. I will re-post this blog with your responses.
But before you do…you have a spot on the front of your shirt…GOTCHA’!
Originally posted 2017-03-09 21:12:08.