Mother's Day gifts
Douglas Fischer/EHS

Our mothers' gifts: Readers respond

We asked you to share one "big lesson" your mother gave. And you responded

You are an engaged bunch! We asked for one gift – one "big lesson" – your mother gave you that you cherish today, and you offered up examples of grace, beauty, toughness and humor.


I'm grateful – and speechless – reading your responses. We've printed a selection, and I hope they leave you as touched and hopeful as they did me.

And for you moms out there: Enjoy your day! Your kids, it is clear, carry a little bit of you forward with them.

'Big lessons' from our moms

"My mother told me to see how a guy's father treats his mother to determine how he will treat me – 51 years happily married later I can say she was right."

– Selma's gift to Marilyn G. in San Diego

"My mother's mother raised 5 kids during the Great Depression, and she taught me to care for and reuse things rather than replace them."

– Pauline's gift to Pat H. in Royal Oak, Mich.

"There is always time to enjoy a cafecito – an espresso Cuban-style – together at least once a day with family or friends (or more in my mom's case!)"

– Elina's gift to Joseph R. in Los Angeles

"Mom kept our door open for our friends, for drop in visitors, for people who needed a place to stay in all sorts of conditions – great as a kid, with some actually weird people living there for a bit, but life-changing as an adult and in our family."

– Johanna's gift to Kirk B. in Bozeman, Mont.

"The strength of persistence I exert in my daily life as a teacher comes from the gift my mother shared with me when she raised me by herself in the 1970s."

– Elaine's gift to Nigel W. in Ashland, Ore.

"Passion for acquiring knowledge - I remember trying to match the stride of my mom, a 6' woman with an Afro (read: 1980's), while walking to the public library which was several city blocks away."

– Tyler's gift to Deva F. in San Diego

"How to endure, persevere, and thrive against the odds — when pressed, tenacity can often see you through."

– Carrie's gift to Mark B. from Washington, D.C.

"Have a really strong floodlight when sailing into a new harbor at night – that's literal but could be quite metaphorical."

– Billie's gift to Michael V.

"My mother taught me, through her regular actions, how to go out of one’s way to connect with other people — across social divides — to put others at ease and lift them up."

– Claire's gift to Chiara C. From Durango, Colo.

"Mom shared her love, knowledge and respect for the natural world resulting in four very impactful, dedicated scientists and two artists, all of whose work is intrinsically entwined in making the planet a safer, better and more connected place."

– Margaret's gift to Liza M. in Santa Fe

"She showed me racism was nonsensical and evil."

– Paul E., Stanford, Calif.

"Finding god, great spirit, love in nature"

– Eila's gift to Kirsi J. in Pittsburgh

"By recovering from Tuberculosis that almost killed her in her late teens, she taught me the value of never giving up when the going gets tough."

– Florence's gift to Tom T.

"Nature is so beautiful and amazing....everything we see around us is a gift to enjoy!"

– Conover's gift to Aileen G from Seattle

"Don't give up something you love to do just because the leader/teacher/coach/authority is a jerk."

– Peggy's gift to Sweeney W.

"She let me try anything when I was a kid, short of burning down the house, which translates into my approach to this day – and which my wife might say is embodied in the frequent statement 'Oh hell, I can build one of those but much cheaper!'"

– Mary's (aka "Big Red") gift to Ritchie B.

"I learned to cherish the pretty darn healthy, French-Canadian DNA she gave me."

– Martha's gift to Lee B.D. of Plantation, Fla.

"My mom made sure that me and my siblings had a love and appreciation for nature and being outdoors from a young age and I’m so grateful for that."

– Kelly's gift to Phoenix M. of Ramsey

Editor's prerogative: My siblings, when they found out what was afoot, piled in with their one lesson from Mom. I couldn't risk family discord by omitting them. Here's to you, Rosemary!

"The importance and JOYFUL obligation of civic duty and civic relationships - voting, donating blood, checking on elderly neighbors, addressing grocery cashiers by name."

– Rosemary's gift to Marianna F. in Durango, Colo.

"Mom instilled in me an interest in and appreciation for the foods and traditions of other cultures."

– Rosemary's gift to Kara C. in San Francisco

"If you see me coming, get out of the way: if you see me coming, MOVE!"

– Rosemary's gift to Gregory F. in Berkeley, Calif.

Photo above is my mom taking her first looks at her first grandson – my now-17-year-old son. Douglas Fischer/EHS

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