Ten Life Lessons from My 99-Year-Old Mum

My mum is 99 on Monday and she is an inspiration to me and to many who know her or know of her. She has featured in my posts and blogs over the years, and she always generates great interest.
I was thinking about her, and I wrote down a few of her attributes and when I read them back, I thought that it would be good to share these in this blog.
1) She is always positive
My mother Janina is always positive. She always sees the positive in people and situations. I’m not sure why this is or where this came from, but it is a joy to be around her. She is very fit for a 99-year-old, and she doesn’t take any medication apart from paracetamol.
Huge research has been undertaken and many studies completed to see if there is a connection between positive thinking and health and the overwhelming evidence is that there is. Surgeons believe that a positive attitude improves recovery from major surgery by 30% and people who are positive tend to be healthier.

2) She never gossips about anyone
I have never heard mum ever say anything negative about anyone – ever! This is something I have picked up from her and it makes life a little sweeter. She only says nice things about people which lifts them and lifts the mood in the room. She is a great example of someone living with peace and contentment.
3) She is grateful for everything she has in her life
My mum is so grateful for everything she has in life. This may come from her experience in the Second World War where she and her family were prisoners of war and were taken to Siberia where they lived in horrific conditions temperatures were often as low as -40 degrees. 
They lived on bread and water and would eat grass to stay alive. Her mother and father died while in Siberia and Mum was the eldest of 5 children and took on the mother role. The stories she recounts are horrific and too graphic to relay here but my feeling is that after experiencing such horrors life now is so much better and there is much to be grateful for.
When we are grateful, we release the hormones Dopamine and Serotonin into our bloodstream which make us feel good. It’s the same as eating chocolate without putting any weight on!
4) She is always joking and smiling
Mum is always joking and laughing. She loves centre stage and even now as a 99-year-old she still has her moments when she sings a song or recounts a funny story to get a reaction and when she does you can see how happy she is.
There is nothing better for her than to have a room full of happy people all having a good time. You can then see her sit back as we all laugh, and clap and she has achieved her objective.
5) She takes every challenge in her stride
Two years ago, she was finding it difficult to climb the stairs and we realised that we would need to move her downstairs to keep her safe. We spent some time decorating the lounge and the living room and we then moved her bed into the lounge at the front of the house.
We bought her a new TV and put it on the wall then we covered the walls with pictures of the family and made the room really nice. Not once did she complain. She moved downstairs and the stair gate was shut and that was it.
She loved the new room and after a bit of adjustment she had a new routine where she could move around between the rooms. She could sit in the living room and watch TV. She could make herself a cup of tea and take it back to her bedroom where she could watch TV there. She accepted the change and embraced it and she is very happy.
6) She is a loving kind person
One of mum’s greatest characteristics is her genuine love for people. She is a kind loving person and loves to make people happy. I remember the many times where she would persuade my dad who held the purse strings to give me some money for certain things I needed.
He would always say no as he was very good with money, and I wasn’t. She would then work on him until he gave in. Often it would be a serious amount of money. She saw the trouble I was in, and she helped.
7) She never complains
Mum has arthritis in her knees and hands, but she never complains. You can see her struggle to walk at times and she takes paracetamol, plus we have a great cream which helps but she just gets on with it. She still walks unaided between the rooms.
8) She has a strong faith
Mum has a strong faith. She was brought up as a Catholic and she has maintained her faith all these years. I am sure this helped her in Siberia. She loves Jesus and she prays a great deal. This gives her comfort and joy as she prays for people who are in need.
One thing which is of great comfort is the Polish TV she has in her bedroom. My brother Richard and his wife Adele thought it would be a good idea to get a satellite fitted so that mum could receive Polish TV. What a great move this was as mum watches it all day long.
A lovely thing that happens each day is at around 12.25 her sister Halina phones her to remind her to watch the Polish Mass at 12.30pm. Then a couple of minutes later her neighbour Mrs Shablewska phones her and does the same. So now mum can watch Polish Mass every day of the week and this gives her great joy.  
9) She is a great encourager
Being brought up by my mum was the best thing that could have happened to me. Dad was a miner working night shifts, and we hardly saw him, so we learned everything from mum. She was a great encourager.
She encouraged me to build a basketball stand in our garden to practice my basketball. I was around 17 at the time and I was outside all the time. My dad was a fantastic gardener, and he had the most beautiful garden.
Within weeks all the flowers were destroyed, and the lawn was worn out as I practiced. I can only imagine what my dad was going through and how much my mum must have worked on him to let me destroy that garden. I did manage to thank my dad before he got Alzheimer’s for his incredible sacrifice.
Because of her encouragement I ended up playing basketball for England and for Great Britain in the Commonwealth games as well as playing professionally for Sunderland.  
10) She is very generous
Mum is very generous and around 25 years ago she bought me a King Size bed as a gift. It wasn’t just any old bed it was the top of the range high quality bed with 1,000 springs. This just sums her up – she could have spent less but it wouldn’t have given her the joy she wanted to feel.
That bed is still with me, and my wife Julie says it’s the best bed she has ever slept in.
She will leave one day
Mum won’t be here forever, and it will be a very sad day when she finally goes but she will not only leave wonderful memories but a legacy that lives on. She is an inspiration to me and to many and I am so blessed to have got to really know her, especially the last couple of years when I have been looking after her a lot more.
Thoughts for the week: 

  1. My mum is a very wise woman and I think there are some things here that are worth considering.
  2. Have a look back at the 10 life lessons and see which ones you are doing well in, and which may want a little improvement.
  3. This week focus on one of these areas, then next week another and so on then observe what changes you experience in your life from this exercise. 

Well that’s it for this week have a wonderful weekend and keep learning.
Warm regards


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