When my mother retired in 2000, I gave the following toast to her at her retirement party. She was a trail blazer professionally, after dedicating herself to raising her two kids. I was proud of her then and am proud of her now.
I am happy to be here, celebrating one of my favorite women, my mother, Gloria Tener. In some ways, I can’t really believe that we are here today, marking a milestone in her career: the occasion of her retirement and observing a change in her focus from professional mediator to that of busy citizen. Where did the time go mother?
It feels like yesterday when she returned to paid employment after taking a 10 year hiatus to raise children. The reality is that it didn’t happen yesterday, but rather over 30 years ago! Maybe it feels familiar because I am following my mother’s footsteps: I have recently returned to paid employment after 10 years (or so) of raising two of Gloria’s four grandchildren. They say that mimicry is the most sincere form of flattery, in that case, mother, my life is following the path you blazed. Thank you for the inspiration. The path you have chosen has been unique, creative, inspiring and you’ve made it look fun. Mom, it feels good to be following in your footsteps.
And what a path to follow, what great shoes to fill: 30 years of working while balancing children, family and creating a unique professional career. My mother, the original sequencer!
I have a small collection of quotes on refrigerator magnets that I want to share a few with you and how they relate to my mother.
The first one is a quote by Marian Thompson, a co-Founder of La Leche League International:
“No matter how far our world advances technologically, the decisions of how to use that technology still have to be made by people. And so the kind of people we produce is crucial to the direction our world takes. You know that raising a loving, caring child is the most important contribution any of us can make to the progress of the world.”
Well my mother lived that philosophy by making my brother and I her priority for our early years. It worked so well, that I had to follow her example and do the same with my children.
The 2nd quote is by Ma Hershey. It reflects what I hope I inherited from my mother—her approach to life:
“Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Laugh. Play with abandon. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Practice wellness. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.”
My mother has always lived with intention. She could have written that one herself. I feel lucky that I was able to watch her shining example of doing what she loved and living in the moment.
The next quote I want to share is a bit hokey and I am not sure who said it, but bear with me:
“Reach for the moon. If you fall short you may land on a star.”
Going to paid employment in 1970, and creating a career in labor relations took a lot of courage, a bit of chutzpah and a huge leap of faith. My mother’s eternal optimism had her reach for the moon. And the fact is she didn’t fall short, she landed a star!
And the last magnet on my refrigerator says:
“Oh shit, I’ve turned into my mother!”
Not a bad thing all in all. Here’s to you Mom–congratulations on your retirement! Love you.
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