Today, I want to celebrate two mothers, my mom and my wife, Heide.
My mom, Lillian, is a retired first-grade teacher living at Cedar Crest, an assisted living facility in New Jersey. At 98, she’s slowed by arthritis, osteoporosis, and macular degeneration. But she gets around with a walker, plays mah-jongg and bridge, FaceTimes with the family, and worries about the decline of American democracy.
If you want to understand me, look at my mom. She and my dad gave us a stable, loving home. We had shelves upon shelves of books. When my twin brother and I were little, she cuddled with us every evening on the living room couch to read. My favorite book was The Story of Ferdinand, a children’s classic, which recently appeared in the news.* Mom’s expectations for us were simple: study hard and be kind. The rest was up to us.
Heide shares a similar devotion to our three daughters, as well as a deep fondness for bedtime stories. She’s also a supernatural force: holding our lives together, planning world travels, creating sumptuous dinners, and running a successful cooking school. Heide’s also an advocate for children. This afternoon, she’s flying to Romania for two weeks to work with the Blue Heron Foundation, helping to organize an orphanage for Ukrainian babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. She plans to cook for them, procure playground equipment, and bring love to a region where it’s sorely needed. The trip will bring Heide full circle, since her parents fled Romania as refugees after the second World War.
It’s a privilege to honor these two women today. The world would be a better place if more people learned from their mothers, spending less time fighting and more time spreading kindness. I know I’m not the only one in this department trying hard to follow their mother’s example.
This afternoon, I’ll be driving Heide to JFK before heading to New Jersey for dinner with my brothers and mom.
Wishing all the moms out there a Happy Mother’s Day,
*More on The Story of Ferdinand:
- Avoiding our ‘gay penguins’ book? Better steer clear of these kids’ classics, too!
- Ferdinand the Bull's 50th Anniversary
- 'Ferdinand the Bull' Celebrates His 50th Birthday