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The Wisdom Of Rita

Sage Advice and Life Lessons I Learned from My Mom

On the Mother's Day 2020, when the world seems to have lost it's moorings, there is something comforting about celebrating a woman who has seen the best and worst of times. Your timeless words of wisdom have guided me through the decades. Here are a few and the lessons they taught me:

1. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. These words have been echoed by moms throughout the centuries. They go way beyond sibling squabbles and schoolyard scraps, this reminds us that our words matter and they can bless and curse, they can tear up or down, they can mend or destroy. Your wise words still give me pause that help me to think before I speak.

I remember you telling me about going to the top of a mountain, and cutting open a feather pillow, and then trying to go back and collect all those feathers. Once my words were out there, I wouldn't be able to go back and retrieve them. I'm so much more aware of what that means now, all these years later.

2. Don’t make me come over there.

We heard those words, and said to each other, shut up, here she comes. Your words stopped us in our tracks. It gave us some time to get it together before you had to step in and we learned the our best negotiation and conflict resolution skills in those very moments. It wasn’t until later when I tried to challenge you on this, did I realize, I was no match for you!

3. Get back outside, you’ll get better before you get married. Only if we were in a dire emergency, did you come running, and for that I thank you. You taught us how to weather our own storms from a banged up knee when we fell off our bikes, to heartbreaks and breakups, to the real stuff of life. It's a good thing, because I don’t think we had enough methylate and bandaids to go around.

4. In or out.

You were doing the foyer floor, I was outside wanting to come in. You opened the door and gave me less than 2 seconds to make that decision. In or out? Too late. Not quick enough. You made the decision for me. Out!

Do you even know what that silly, little moment taught me about making a decision, about knowing what I want and saying yes or no? Can't quite remember, but I'm pretty sure I ended up having to go to the neighbor's house to pee.

5. Don’t let the sun fool ya!

This was always a good one and though it meant take your jacket just in case, it really meant take your jacket just in case. Not everything is as it appears, and being ready to switch gears and switch feet, goes way beyond take a jacket just in case. While you taught me about kindness, you also to taught me to stay aware and keep my eyes open to what was going on around me.

6. Donna, come home and dust.

A big Mom/Donna teenage blow out. I leave in a huff, again to the neighbors. Two Siciliano hot heads and things got really fired up really fast—so with a slam of the door I was gone. That’s right, all the way....across the street. Same neighbors. Rather than call and apologize, or wait and make me have to, you did the next, best, bridge-building thing, you told me to come home and dust. I caved and home I went. And, just like that, we were OK again.

7. If you love it, pack it. If not, get rid of it.

I love this one. I had been living overseas for almost 2 decades. From a single women with a rucksack on her back, to a wife and mom of three with an entire household, I was stuck and uncertain what to bring back to America and what to leave behind. So I called you, "What to do?" I asked. A seasoned packer and mover, you didn’t hesitate,"Just pick something up, look at it, do you love it, pack it. If not, leave it!"

8. Choose wisely,

Best Rita advice of all time! I wish I’d paid more attention to this one. It would have saved me tons of heartache, wrong decisions, and detours. Yet, like every mother knows, so much of this, no matter how many times you tell us, there are certain things that we just had to learn for ourselves.

To my beautiful, tenacious, sassy, kind, loving Mother—God knew I needed you, that everything would be the perfect preparation for the life I would live. That big crazy house for our big beautiful family of 8! Six kids, sharing bathrooms, pillows, beds. Having chores and getting jobs as soon as we could. Love and laughter, banter around the table, enough boxes of cereal and no name groceries to feed an army, and driving with you in the car with my 70’s tunes blasting on the radio as I waved to this one and that one. You told me to just keep your hand up, "You know everybody," you said. Hmm, wonder where I got that from?

And even in the toughest of times. I was learning from you how to navigate through them. It gave me the fortitude and the resolve to keep going when I didn't think I could. You helped me see beyond to the other side, and eventually that's where I found myself. I still can see you cheering me on and know that your strength, resilience, tenacity runs through me.

May I have your wisdom as I age, and may my own children, see me with as much love, appreciation and inspiration I see you!

I would not be who I am today without you! Thank you is not enough.

With all my love,


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