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Lessons I Learned From My Mother

Lessons I Learned From My Mother

By Mike Drak

This picture is from my mother’s 93rd birthday which we celebrated recently at her nursing home. The cake was chocolate and bought from her favourite grocery store.

Birthdays always seem to evoke memories for me so I thought I would share my thoughts.

A Mother’s Love

I remember a few years back telling my mother that I needed to get over my fear of public speaking because one of my dreams was to one day travel around the country talking and educating people about Victory Lap Retirement.

She wanted to help, and came up with the idea that I should give weekly talks to a group of her friends at her retirement home. They were always looking for things to do and it would be a way to ease into public speaking in front of a friendly audience.

So each Wednesday I would visit her and after lunch we would wait for her friends to slowly make their way in their walkers and wheelchairs to the media room where I would talk for an hour about something of interest.

To be honest the first time I did it I was petrified – my fear of public speaking was that bad, but thanks to the support of my mum and her friends I was eventually able to get comfortable.

There were times when one or two of them would fall asleep as I was infringing on their after lunch nap time, and once someone actually started to snore. That thought still makes me smile.

I also remember talking to my mother after one presentation when I asked her about something that I had said. She started to turn red and told me that she couldn’t actually hear what I was talking about as she had a problem with her hearing. Mum had never mentioned her hearing problem to me before.

So there she would sit in front of me for all those presentations with a smile on her face not hearing a single word I was saying. I guess that is what mothers do.

I will never forget that.

The Great Circle Of Life

My mother’s recent journey from retirement home to the nursing home has been an eye opener and because of that I’m now a firm believer that happiness and fulfillment comes from within.

Looking back there was a progression, each move my mother made, from detached house, to retirement home, to nursing home resulted in a shrinking of her living space and a corresponding reduction in her possessions. Now she has only a few possessions some furniture, a wedding picture and family pictures adorn the walls, and her memories.

I realize that somewhere along the way many of us get caught up acquiring “stuff” that we don’t need. We were not put on this earth just to die with a big pile of junk.

When you boil life down to it’s essentials, it’s easy to separate what’s important from what’s not.

You realize that chasing after money is not the most important thing, and neither is the stuff you acquire throughout your life. What is really important, what really matters, are the memories you created with your friends and families, and the difference you make in the lives of the people you touch and help along the way. I sometimes wonder as she sits staring blankly at a wall what is she thinking about, what meaningful moment in her life is she focused on?

One day the majority of us will be in mum’s shoes, we will review the tapes in our minds, hopefully we made a difference in people’s lives, and hopefully we made great memories because that is all that we will have left.

I’ve made a promise to myself to invest the rest of my time on this planet chasing my dreams, helping people along the way, and making wonderful memories with the Contessa, my kids and hopefully one day, grandchildren.

A New Attitude

My mother suffers from Parkinson’s. As a result she can’t feed herself and the constant shaking is wearing her down. I am not quite sure how many pills she takes but it is a lot, she also has some problems with her heart and will require dialysis soon as her kidney function is quite low. They mix all these pills with apple sauce which she takes down grudgingly before dinner time and I try to have a  coffee on hand to help her with the process. She like to have her coffee with one milk, quarter sugar with a straw.

I’ve been watching, listening and learning a lot from her every time I visit. I don’t particularly like going to the home, but it has given me a new perspective on life.

I am no longer focused on my own longevity, I’m more concerned about quality of life. I choose abundance of life over mere extension of time.

None of us is getting out of here alive, we are not going to live forever.

That is why I focus on pushing my “best before date” as far back as possible and filling those quality days with as much adventure, memories and joy as I can. To do that I need to get back to “healthy” and be able to sustain that health which is part of the reason I have decided to do Ironman when I turn sixty five in 2019.

I plan on celebrating my success every chance I get and that means enjoying some chicken wings and a few beers along the way. There is nothing better than a cold beer on a hot summer day after a long endurance workout, trust me on that. Enjoy life while you can.

I remember once visiting my mum and she told me who ever called it the “Golden Years” was full of it. My mum’s Irish can you tell?

This post was originally published on Victory Lap Retirement and was adapted and reprinted with permission.

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Mike Drak

Author, Retirement Coach and Public Speaker at Victory Lap Retirement
Mike Drak is a thirty-eight year veteran of the financial services and lives with his wife Melina in Toronto, Canada. Mike is the Author of the best-selling book Victory Lap Retirement and also an award winning blogger, retirement coach and public speaker. Mike has also appeared on BNN, CBC Radio and iHeart radio.