Mother’s Day has been a tough day for me over the past 24 years.
The reason for this was that Mother's Day in 1994 was the last day my mom was healthy.
We were at a carnival, and spent the day playing games, riding camels, and eating junk food with my two kids.
The next day, my mother was off to the hospital and diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. Less than a month later, she passed away.
Man, things were just starting to come together for me around that time with Steiner Sports, my two great kids, and awesome wife.
My plan was to surprise my mom with a red convertible for Mother's Day one year. I always thought to myself that I'd get her the car next year. That thought had been in my head for 4-5 years prior.
Red convertibles were my mom's thing; she loved them.
Needless to say, that present never got delivered.
Anyway, as many of you know and may have read, my mother was a larger than life person. In my book, You Gotta Have Balls, I mentioned my favorite line of hers: "Be fearless. Go all the way. Go for it. Wow people."
Here are a few other lessons my mom taught me -
1) If you use your head, you won't have to use your feet.
2) Never buy the name brand. Always buy the generic.
I've never had Heinz ketchup, a real Coke, or Oreo cookies growing up.
My mom always asked me "do you think ShopRite has a ketchup company?" and told me they get their ketchup from Heinz. We always bought ShopRite brand.
You think Pathmark has a cola company? No way, Coke makes that cola for them. Not sure if you can get that education from any ivy or private school, but as a kid I guess I believed it, and we did save a lot of money.
3) My mom always knew where the sales, coupons, and discounts were.
I never knew as a child that you could walk into a store and simply buy something straight out. There was always someone shopping that we knew, or she would know about a coupon or another place that would have an item for cheaper.
I can't even imagine my mom using the Internet.
4) Always give to give, and never judge others. There is some one else in higher level that will do that on another day.
I was 10 years old and we went shopping on Fulton Street at a store called Mays. I never knew you could walk in a store and try something on. Mays was a close out discount store. If something looked like it fit, it did. With 3 kids and no dad, we shopped once a year to get our wardrobe and hammy downs from relatives.
Anyway, we just walked out of Woolworth’s, where I had a banana split.
We had just cashed our welfare check and my mom took a dollar and put it in a homeless person's basket.
I then reached into the basket and pulled the dollar out. My mother quickly said to put it back. She told me "why don't you think we should give this man a dollar?" I replied that he should work if he needs money.
She then told me "when someone asks for help, don't question it. By definition, when someone asks for help, they need it. It's not up to us to judge someone on a higher level."
5) My cousin once told me this story - we were at a really big wedding. There were between 300-400 people, and my mom went outside where there was a huge line of people waiting for their car. She isn't wearing a jacket, and it was freezing out and snowing.
Her car was parked right by the door.
My cousin asked her how this happened and she responded "schmuck, tip the guy on the way in, not on the way out!"
6) Always know where the best pizza and sandwich can be found.
Why? These are the ultimate comfort foods, and nothing beats a great slice of pizza (see Spumoni Gardens...). We always knew where to get an amazing sandwich; in the back room at Nathan's in Coney Island, or the best delis in every borough (Katz's).
Mom always knew where to go and the key people who worked at each place as well!
7) You always have to count your change.
My mom sent me to her salon to convert a $50 bill into smaller bills. It was snowing out at the time; about 10 degrees. I went to the salon, gave a man named Dorian the $50, and he gave me some tens, some fives, and some singles. I put it all in my pocket and took it home.
The next thing I know, my mom started counting the money and I was short by $4. So, I thought that I must have dropped it somewhere.
I went outside and looked all over four blocks in the snow and under cars, and I couldn't find the $4 anywhere. After two hours of searching frantically, I told my mom I lost it and will work to pay her back from my paper route.
A few weeks later, I went back to the salon and saw Dorian again. He told me that he never gave me the $50 and shorted me $4. He didn't have enough singles. I was going to strangle the guy when he told me "Hey, you got to count your change! Trust no one!"
If you have a chance, go get your mom that red convertible as soon as possible. Don't wait.
And make sure that on Sunday, you visit her early. Don't get backlogged with telling her how grateful you are for her and that you love her. Give her a big hug and thank her for everything.
If you're not getting along with your mom right now, make up, apologize, and forgive. Get your relationship with her back on track.
No one is ever going to be more important to you than your mom.
Song of the Day: "Someone To Watch Over Me" by Frank Sinatra
Movie Quote of the Day: "Here's Looking At You, Kid" (Casablanca)