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

Vital And Vibrant 88 Year Old Woman?”

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?

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