A Tribute to My Mother: Living Life Vibrantly at 96

Photo: Taken by Walker family friend

December 5, 2019, marked the 96th year my mother has been on this planet. Throughout our lives, she has encouraged me, as well as many other people, to live life fully and vibrantly. It was my mother who introduced my twin sister and me to ballet; a story I previously shared with the readers of Arts & Culture Connections. She also ensured we made it to our dance classes, even learning how to drive when my older sister went off to college. And she attended all of our performances. Recently, when thinking about my mother, I experienced a rush of tremendous appreciation for the vibrant life force she shared with me and my sisters, especially given her longevity. I think it’s always important to remember that we can continue to learn daily from our parents or other elders—whether they are with us physically or not.

You may be surprised to learn that my mother has dementia and resides in an assisted living facility that has a focus on memory care and is in Chicago. She receives excellent care from her caregivers and, of course, from my two sisters. One thing is clear—as my mother’s ability to share and communicate has diminished, her life force and passion for living has increased. A perfect example of this was her 96th birthday party, which was attended by 50 people. The attendees were comprised of staff and residents from the assisted living facility, as well as friends. They call my mother, “Grandma,” and make sure they see her daily. Mother is so present, and her eyes are so bright. You can feel her vibrant energy and caring as she listens. This seems to be enough to help a number of people to not only feel good about who they are, but also know that someone cares about them.

I think the most important lessons we can learn from my mother’s experience is that no matter what our state of life, no matter what our physical or neurological condition, we always have the potential for renewal; we can always encourage someone else, or give hope to others. We can even learn something new. This has everything to do with the arts, and its consistent efforts to revitalize the human spirit. Sometimes art is on stage, in a movement, in a book or a picture. Other times art manifests in how we live our lives.

My mentor, Daisaku Ikeda writes, “I hope all of you, without saying a word, will inspire people to do their human revolution (change from the inside out), touch another’s heart.” My mother is a living and vibrant example of that. Her life is a masterpiece of thoughtfulness, generosity, compassion and love.

6 thoughts on “A Tribute to My Mother: Living Life Vibrantly at 96

  1. Dear Donna what an excellent writing regarding your mother. For my mom died of Alzheimer’s on March 22,2019 . She was 95 years old and I was her main caregiver. She lived with me. Mom had requested to never go into a nursing home and I was the only sibling that was widowed and no children to keep her request. It was hard but my mother fought this disease until the end. She chanted Nam Myoho Renge Kyo with the members in Pittsburgh because I was determined to have our district meetings in my home and do as much SGI activities to remain strong so her wish to die at home would be granted. As the Gosho says no prayer goes unanswered and as you quoted our Mentor President Ikeda said “ without saying a word you can still do your human revolution. Mom remained strong until she passed and even though she had a Christian burial she learned to respect and love the Buddhist members and they loved her.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts about your mom and I have become a strong advocate for Alzheimer’s because AFrican Americans are leading the disease at the front. My next prayer is to advocate until there is a cure.

    Thank you Donna and cherish your mom until the end and even more afterwards. Miss all of you in NY🙏🏾❤️🌹🎶

    1. Edna, how wonderful to hear from you! I didn’t know you were in Pittsburgh. That’s great. Please accept my sincere condolences on the passing of your beloved mom. Yes, I am cherishing every moment, an look forward to seeing her over the holidays. All the best to you!

  2. This is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing and this is very ispiring. I guess no matter her current health the life condition she was able to achieve through her life and also through your life goes above any mental condition and it’s stronger than mind limitation.

  3. The lady who transcends time: Motherhood We talk about the Statue of Liberty…what about statues for all mothers for their brilliance, their civility? Bedrock is what she signifies, but is she always dignified by mankind? Her composition only heavens knows. A rib from Adam made Eve? That has to be a fallacy. Mothers are the champs of all champions. Mothers are given nine months of pain and joy. Motherhood is above all, even fatherhood. Experience is a mother’s teacher that guides her like a radar, traveling through time, but it’s not a direction or a prescription; it’s a factual description, like a mathematical equation or a benediction. The ingredients that formulate her inner being would take a life time to describe and that is be lost time. What would life be without her joy, her happiness, her guidance, her tenacity? This lady is surreal in this land of monstrosity. Say it loud and be proud- that lady is indescribable. She is embedded in the landscape. Let the truth be told, not sold. Let motherhood be your guide. This lady is out of sight, she is so bright: bring out the trophies, bring out the Oscars, bring out every award…the walk of fame, too; pop the champagne and have a parade for this lady who deserves all our praise. Bow to the champion of all humanity, your mother. From the book ” Taking a walk down truth street in America” by Compton T Dodson

  4. How tremendous! Thank you for sharing with us, a word about her tremendous legacy and gifts! I love the message about “human revolution”. Bonus – I didn’t know you are a twin!

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