“What’s Your Mother’s Secret In Being A …

In Yoga by admin12 Comments

Vital And Vibrant 88 Year Old Woman?”

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My mother and I are sitting in the doctor’s office. A specialist in breast cancer. In fact she’s a surgical oncologist.

A 40-ish looking woman walks in wearing comfortable stylish black shoes. A plaid wool skirt and black sweater. No makeup. Her naturally pretty face instead wears compassion and kindness.

She introduces herself and pulls up a chair in front of us. Barely an inch breath between their knees.

The doctor leans forward and looks directly into my mother’s eyes. She is present. Clear. Direct.

Taking hold of her hand she asks my 88 year old mother, “Do you have any questions?” My mother does. Occasionally one or the other glances my way.

Questions answered they chat.

Then the doctor turns towards me, “Do you have any questions?” Nodding, I flip open my notebook beginning my litany. As if she has nothing more pressing to do the surgeon calmly responds.

Next, she guides my mother to the examining table. As she helps her to recline back the doctor casually looks over her shoulder.

“What do you think your mother’s secret is in being such a vital and vibrant 88 year old woman?”

I pause. Open my mouth to speak. I’m smacked in the gut. Instead of coherence blubber erupts.

She hands me a tissue. “I’m sorry. Was that a painful question?”

“No. Yes. I mean…it’s a beautiful question.”

Every day since – I’ve not stopped contemplating that question.

My mother’s mastectomy was performed the day before Thanksgiving. I took the photo above, of both my parents, three days post.

As a first generation Italian American my mother embodies some darn good genes.

She grew up with immigrant un-educated parents who came to the US to make a better life for themselves.

They were hard-working industrious people who loved and lived with grace and grit.

At 13 my mother rode the bus after school into downtown Chicago to work and help support the family.

She was feisty. Still is. Rebellious. Smart. Joyful.

If given the opportunity for higher education she would have graduated with high honors. And I’m convinced my mother would have been one of the first high earning female executives.

Instead she raised me and three brothers while running a small business with my father.

This is what I believe. My mother is vital and vibrant at 88 years young because she remains curious about life and people. Her heart is generous, kind, compassionate.

Life was not always easy. Like most of us she has ridden the roller coaster. At 88 her experience of loss is great. As a result my mom’s appreciation for this gift of life is ever present.

In September she joined her next door neighbor to watch in wonder the solar eclipse and the blood moon.

When she feels she has transgressed an apology comes easily. Her sense of humor delights.

I could go on and on listing her may gifts and qualities.

What I hope to convey is that her vibrancy and vitality is the result of the way she views life.

Her attitude is such that she is open to receive life on its terms. Never forgetting it’s a privilege, she enjoys the rich diversity of being human.

She is a yogi in the truest, most profound sense of the word. A yogi who loves life.

As we embark upon this holiday season please take a time out in order to be… Curious. Compassionate. Joyful. Present. Accepting. Generous.

Be in love with your life.

With love, 


I’d love to hear from you. What’s your secret to living a vital and vibrant life?

Don’t forget to keep the conversation by clicking the comment link at the top of the page.

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  1. Such a beautifully written piece Paulette. Thank you for sharing. I have always loved listening to your writing. Wishing you the best this holiday season and I hope your mother continues to recover swiftly. She is a remarkable woman like her daughter.

    1. Author

      Thank you Jennifer. That’s kind of you to say. Much love to you and yours this holiday season.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this story. I had been hoping that nothing bad was happening in your world when you were not around.
    I do hope your remarkable mother continues to do well. She seems to be supported by many loving hands.

    1. Author

      Thank you Niamh. I appreciate your kind words and thoughts. See you soon.

  3. Beautifully written and what an amazing woman your mom is! She sure set the bar high for you!

    1. Author

      Thank you. She sure is. And she sure did.

      I’m grateful for her inspiration. And that the work I do in the world, and my own personal work, is the hand that helps pull me up.

  4. My darling sweet pea. Thank you for sharing and for letting us into what most might consider private. Nana is and always will be a beautiful, strong and resilient example of what it means to be courageous.
    May she continue to heal and recover.

    1. Author


      Thank you for taking time to write.

      Yes! Nana is strong, resilient, courageous and beautiful.

      And it is private and personal. I so appreciate you acknowledging that. What is also inspirational is that she wants to be an example to women of all ages facing challenges in their lives. What ever that might look like.

      Courage – “cour” “”ag”, from the heart!

      May we all live with courage and grace.

  5. Hi Paulette,

    I just love the way you describe the happenings of your life. I can’t wait for your book. I honestly get a lump in my throat whenever there is conversation about your mom. She is so dear to me, I have no words. Your mom and Dad,are my guiding light in this mysterious, life.The love your mom and dad have for each other is a ” fighting “, never giving up kind of love that spills out over their entire world. We all see it, we all feel it. Your mother must have been born with her strong core, and it has touched all of us. I love them, I love you, and I too am so grateful for life!

    1. Author

      Thank you Florence. Life is definitely mysterious. The good and not so good news at times. And it’s helpful to have guiding lights, love and support as we navigate this unpredictable human journey.

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