When is the last time you found yourself repeating sage wisdom that began with, “Mama always said?” In a collective effort to gather those small bits of joy, observations and even humorous stories about family matriarchs – living and departed – the AJT celebrates an array of Moms who imparted wisdom in a myriad of ways long to be remembered.
My grandmother Annie Freedman, of blessed memory, imparted these wise words, “Pretty is as pretty does.” When my beloved mother Phyllis Freedman, a dedicated super mom by all standards passed away, I also inherited 10 red lipsticks. Mom kept a stash of Revlon’s #725 Love That Red and to this day, I am also prepared.
Susanne Katz Karlick’s mother Virginia Gold stressed to her the same sentiment, “Never leave home without lipstick on.”
My sister-in-law Esther Levine and my husband Ed’s mother Frances knew how to go guilt-free shopping. She would buy a garment, leave it in the closet for a while and when her husband asked, “Is that new,” Frances would reply, “No, I’ve had it in the closet for months.”
Family was especially important to her and she kept in touch with everyone. Whenever there was a simcha in the family, even if it meant traveling, Frances was known to say, “If you don’t want me, don’t invite me, because if you invite me, I will come.”
Travels were quite different, though, for Esther and Ed’s beloved grandmother Rosa Gerson, whose faith in Judaism carried her from a shtetel in Poland and trip across the ocean to settling later in life in Columbus, Ga. Through good times and bad, Rosa shared two words that stood out in both of their memories “God provides.”
How we worry was another top contender on many Jewish mothers’ lists. Ed Harris shared, “My mother Bernice gave me a most precious bit of life inspiration when I was fretting about something important and she told me, ‘Don’t worry twice!’ I’ve never forgotten that, and the phrase has carried me through some tough times over the years.”
Gail Heyman shared her kind-hearted mother Betty Goldstein’s insights. “Even today when I am making a decision about what to do in a challenging situation, I can hear my mom’s words: ‘You can never do wrong by doing right.’”
Next came a mother’s creative story shared by Joey Reiman. “Most children grow up playing in forts or with their doll houses. My mother built me a miniature White House and encouraged me to take on the role of president. As child leader of the free world, I often negotiated for a variety of cereals or buttermilk pancakes. I was all about world peace and harmony at home. I was neither a Republican nor a Democrat but a “possibilitarian.” In my early world, anything was possible. And I would take that attitude with me into the adult world when I moved from the White House to my consultancy — BrightHouse.” He adds, “Thanks Mom for the real estate and the unreal state of mind that allows me to this day to inspire and guide so many to their purpose.”
AJT contributor Marcia Jaffe’s mom Rosalie Caller was well known for her deep Southern accent and putting her spin on life.
Caller almost made it to her 96th birthday at the Renaissance on Peachtree and was particularly wise, if not a bit conflicted on love and dating, according to Jaffe.
“You can’t sleep with a checkbook.”
“Rich or poor, it’s good to have money.”
“It takes two to tango.”
“Remember, another streetcar pulls up every 15 minutes.”
“Every pot has a lid.”
More dating advice comes from AJT colleague Flora Rosefsky. Her mom Julia Greenbaum told Flora before she got engaged, “Notice how a man treats his mother; if he’s really good, that’s the way he will treat you.” Rosefsky shared that her husband Bernie went overboard in how he adored his mother, and he could not do enough for her throughout their 59 years of marriage.
Charlene Sacks, mother of Harvey Sacks, Annette Marcus and Evie Sacks, is a beloved, award-winning baker and cook. Sacks shared, “When our mom is asked how long a certain recipe should cook, she unfailingly responds, ‘Until it’s done.’ On one level, this is about the fact that her skill and experience tell her when something is done. It’s also about generally trusting your instincts and feeling confident in your decisions, another area where she shines!”
Lastly, Joey Moskowitz Srquotes his mother Sara. “When something is bad going on, my mother used to say, instead of counting your blessings: ‘When one toe hurts, you don’t think about the other ones feeling good.’” Moskowitz added, “After a big family meal, mom would also say, ‘You cook and you cook for days, and in five minutes it’s all eaten up.’”
Moskowitz finds himself quoting his mom often to his adult children and wonders to this day, “How old do your children have to be before they quote you?”
While the answer is clear, we end with a reminder for those of our readers who are blessed with the cherished opportunity to hear those echoing redundant phrases, quotes and priceless bits of wisdom.
Our best and final advice? Call your mother!
Robyn Spizman Gerson, aka ‘Ro Ro’ to her grandkids, is a New York Times bestselling, award-winning author and media personality who loves giving advice to her children.
- Robyn Spitzman Gerson
- mother's day
- Annie Freedman
- Phyllis Freedman
- Susanne Katz Karlick
- Virginia Gold
- Esther Levine
- Rosa Gerson
- Bernice Harris
- Gail Heyman
- Betty Goldstein
- Joey Reiman
- Marcia Caller Jaffe
- Rosalie Caller
- Flora Rosefsky
- Julia Greenbaum
- Charlene Sacks
- Harvey Sacks
- Annette Marcus and Evie Sacks
- Joey Moskowitz
- Sara Moskowitz