Ever see that sign? Ever see an athlete on the sideline suddenly appear on camera — and the first thing the athlete does is say: “Hi, Mom!”
Mothers rule. And their rules live forever. You rebel against them as a child, but they serve as beacons for success as you age.
I grew up in a nice Jewish household in Haddonfield, N.J. My mother’s brother was a doctor. That automatically made my mother a doctor — and she wanted me to be a doctor. But I wanted to be a businessman like my dad.
My fondest memory of my mother, Florence, was my first day of college. I commuted to Temple University in Philly. As I was backing down our driveway to register for classes, I saw my mother in her housecoat running down the driveway after me screaming, “Take pre-med, you can always switch!” Mothers never give up.
I had a great home. Florence — nicknamed Florrie — was a homemaker. She cooked every meal — and she was a superb cook. We ate as a family every day. If you took a bite before Mom sat down at the table, you ate the rest of your meal in the bathroom. I ate there several times. Mom’s lessons were simple — but powerful: Love to cook. Eat as a family as often as you can. Don’t start eating until everyone is seated.
Having a parent at home after school was wonderful. It allowed me to bring my friends over and enjoy Mom’s fresh baked goodies. I took it for granted then, but remember it as a reassuring environment. We ate everything in sight, so Mom baked more.
Even as a full-time mother, she took a leadership role as a volunteer. A founding member of one synagogue, and the president of a Jewish women’s association, she never joined to be a social member — she joined to make a difference and set an example. Join to lead, not just belong.
My mother taught me how to shop. At the grocery store she would painstakingly search for the best produce, the sweetest fruits and the finest cuts of meat. We entertained often and always served the best food and drink to our family and our guests. Serve the best. Yes, it costs a few dollars more, but it’s a reflection of you.
When she turned 60, my mom started a travel agency school and business — and it succeeded. All her life she dreamed about going to Europe. Later in life, a stroke prevented her from fulfilling her dream — but when I was in Europe, she lived a year vicariously through my detailed letters about my travels. Every time Mom sent me a letter, there was a $20 bill in the envelope. So the lesson is: It’s never too late, and it’s never too early to live your dreams.
Along the way, mothers give wisdom disguised as rules. For example: If you have nothing nice to say — say nothing. While I know everyone’s mother said this, my mom harped on it. It still has an impact on my communication. And while I admit to an occasional slip, I also admit that I feel her presence when I do.
My mother drilled manners into my brother and me. She reprimanded us if we acted up at the dinner table during a family meal. And if we acted up when company came, we would get pinched under the table. Manners are now second nature to me, and you would be amazed how holding a door or helping someone with a coat gets noticed. And there’s an added benefit: Because it’s prevalent in my thoughts, every time I am courteous to someone, it makes me think of my mom. I hold a door, and I smile.
I called my brother Josh last night and asked him for stories and recollections about Mom. I wanted to call my mom, but I couldn’t. This month marks the 20th year of her passing.
Call your mother if she is still alive. Tell her how much you appreciate what she did and does for you. Tell her you love her. Tell her with feeling. She’s expecting your call.
I’ve been saving Mom stories. And I’m lucky. I get to share them with you.
Perhaps you have a mom success story or piece of wisdom you’d like to share. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will acknowledge each one personally.
Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible,” and “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless,” is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail