Things I learned from my mom

Hug Frequently
A hug costs nothing yet gives a huge return. Spend them on family and friends as though you have an unlimited supply, because you do.

Enjoy Family Time
My mom was happiest when we were all sitting at the dinner table, swapping stories and making one another laugh. I am happiest when I am sitting at the dinner table with my own kids, making each other laugh.

Laugh Easily
Open yourself to laughter. Try to find the humor in things, even if it sometimes comes at your own expense. When frustration is about to lead to anger, try laughing about it instead.

Protect Ferociously
If you attempt to harm my child I will personally introduce you to the afterlife. No, I am completely serious.

Marry My Child, Become My Child
When I married my wife, my mom didn't treat it as though she lost a son but that she finally gained a daughter. She gave her love unconditionally and always treated my wife as her own child.

Say “I love you”
Don't assume your family and close friends know that you love them. This isn't some awkward teenage crush, these are the people that are most important to you. Tell them. I never had a conversation with my mom that didn't end with her telling me that she loved me, unless I managed to get it in first.

Share Your Pride
My mom frequently shared how proud she was of me. She always focused on my accomplishments, and merely noted my failures to me privately. She instilled in me a drive to succeed, not a fear of failure. Find the positive things your children do and build on them.

Don't Give Up
Sometimes life throws you a curve ball. It may be a spouse going through a tough time, a personal financial crisis or even cancer. Fight it because your family needs you.

Teach By Example
You can't expect your children to behave any differently than you do. If you want your children to pay attention to you, pay attention to them. Be as kind to them as you want them to be to others.

Keep Chocolate Handy
Every problem looks easier to solve with the application of a little chocolate.

Adalene was born on February 14, 1930, the fourth child of Salvatore and Rosaria. My grandparents immigrated from Sicily just a few years earlier and settled in a little burg in Western Pennsylvania. My grandfather hand built the house that my mother was born in and remains in the family to this day.

My mom was a child of the Great Depression and quit school after the 8th grade to take a factory job and help provide for her family. She spent the first 30 years of her life devoted to her parents while staying in Pennsylvania. When Salvatore died, my mom, her sister Angelina and her mother moved to California to start a new life. It was there that she met my father Dave Alison.

On her first date with my dad they were involved in a horrific car accident when a drunk driver ran a red light. My mom's foot was nearly severed but they were able to reattach it, though the injury would plague my mom for the rest of her life. At this point it became pretty clear that my mom was a survivor.

In 1962 she married Dave and became Adalene Alison. A year later she had me, followed by my brother a year and a half later. With a young family under her wings, she and my dad set about building a life for themselves. My dad had a couple of business ventures that failed, putting some pretty heavy stress on the family. To complicate matters, my dad was an alcoholic, alternating through beer, whiskey and vodka over the years.

Through all of these challenges Adalene remained committed to Dave. My grandmother Rosaria lived with us and watched my brother and I while my mom and dad worked during the day. It was only when I was an adult that my mom and dad revealed how hard times were when I was a child. I never knew this; I always had clothes, there was always food on the table and my parents would somehow find a way to give us huge quantities of toys for our birthdays and Christmas. My brother and I wanted for nothing.

In the late 1970s my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She insulated my brother and me from it, always assuring us that she would be fine. She always seemed more concerned with us than herself. She had surgery several times to remove the cancer before it would come back. She kept fighting and eventually had a mastectomy. Though scarred from the surgery, she was cancer free and would remain so for the rest of her life.

Over the years my mom encountered other health problems that led to her quality of life declining. Fortunately my dad quit drinking and became the devoted spouse my mom had always been to him. As dementia started to affect my mom, my dad was there to help her get by. The year 2011 was a series of declines for my mom and it was pretty clear that her time on this earth was coming to a close.

Though my mom fought many battles and overcame adversity every time it knocked at her door, she never lost her ability to laugh and smile. Even while in hospice care and bound to a wheelchair, she would reach out and hold the hands of others around her, trying to comfort them.

On August 11, 2011, while my mom quietly breathed her last breath, my dad held her hand and whispered into her ear "I love you".


Jeffrey P. said…
Wow Dave. This was very inspirational and so sad to hear about the loss of a great lady. All my best to your family.
Andy Jarrell said…
My condolences, Dave. What a blessing to have a mother you love and respect as much as you do.
Jim said…
I think our mothers would have gotten along quite well. They both had the right attitude. Mom loved my wife so much that she'd call (MI to CA), talk to Brigitte for an hour and never even ask to talk to me. You were blessed and you return that blessing. Thanks.
C said…
Your mother and your family are in my prayers through this difficult time. Congratulations on having a great example for these many years. May she rest in peace and all the lessons she ever gave, keep reaping benefits to those left behind.
David Alison said…
@All: Thanks so much for the kind words. I have been inundated with messages and calls from friends and family. Though a simple "you're in my thoughts" and "my condolences" may sound cliche, it really does help. It makes me appreciate that there are people out there that care about my family, or in some cases about a complete stranger that just happens to write on his blog occasionally.

You and my mom would have gotten along fabulously.
Javier C. said…
Thank you for sharing these lessons, Dave

May your mother rest in peace. Love to your family
romills said…
Thanks for sharing Dave.. My condolences to you and your family..
ddregs said…
It was a great reading David. Thanks for sharing.
She's up there protecting you and your family now.
Ps. It was great reading about your grandparents italian roots. I believe your grandma's name is Rosaria btw, because Rosario is a male first name over here ;-)
David Alison said…
@ddregs: Thanks for the kind words and the correction. I never saw my grandmother's name in writing and only heard my dad refer to her as "Rose".

She was always Nana to us and we pronounced it "Nuh-nuh".

My mom was actually raised speaking italian first and didn't learn to speak english until she started school. She always spoke italian to my aunts, uncles and grandmother. In the late 80s when my mom and her sister finally went to Italy for the first time they were shocked to find that nobody could really understand them. They had been speaking italian only to themselves for 60 years and they had introduced so many english words that it wasn't either italian or english. It was italish.
ddregs said…
Italish - funny :-) But I guess it would be the same for me and my family getting to live in an english language only environment … englian ? :-)
Thanks once again for sharing. Keep up the good spirit David.
Therese Padilla said…
What a wonderful lady, David. I found the link through Renee Gentry. It just is interesting that we all worked together long ago, but through technology there is still connection.

Your story was amazing and your mother sounds divine. How blessed you are, but I guess you knew that. My best wishes to you and your family during your time of loss.
Anonymous said…
What a wonderful read, Dave. Ever since I switched over to the light side (Mac) I try to check out your blog every now and again. Your mom was wonderful, and the lessons that you have learned from her are lessons for all of us. I'm sorry for your loss - I still have my mom, but I know the day will come, and I dread it.

Blessings from Michigan.

- C
Don said…
Dave, I was sorry to read about your Mom. What a wonderful tribute you have written. You are also a living tribute to her as well by embracing and living the things she taught you. My thoughts are with you and your family. Peace.
Sleepydude said…
Sorry to hear of your loss Dave. This a great post. You are a good writer. I'm sure you're mom was proud.
Matthew said…
David, one of the most beautiful things I have read in a long time.

May she rest in peace and may you and your family rejoice in the love that is so apparent from your story.
Josh said…
Wow, what a remarkable first date. If you can make it through that, you can make it through anything.

Saddened to read of your mum's passing.

I'm thousands of miles away, but am touched by your loss (and your tribute) all the same.

Terrible to lose a loved one, but clearly your mum had a very positive impact on the people around her . . . a lesson there for all of us. I feel sad for you, but inside I'm applauding her. One of life's truly good people.

With respect and admiration from this side of the herring pond

Hey Dave, what a wonderful epitaph.

She sounds like a wonderful person and an amazing Mom.

Sincere condolences for you and your family's loss.

Congratulations for having been so lucky to have had her for 81 years!

Take care man.

---Jeff aka RASTER
Anonymous said…
My condolences and best to you and your family. What a great story. I enjoy reading your blog and this was the best post yet.
Joe Milas said…

I spoke with Daryl tonight and he told me to read what you wrote on your blog. I had to read it twice, once because I cried throughout the beautiful words you wrote, and second so I could actually read and soak in the words which were written so gracefully. Your thoughts, feelings and truth are such a wonderful honor to your Mom. She was such a graceful, beautiful, selfless, caring woman who always had a smile on her face. I am so blessed to have been so close to your family and always will. Life is too short not to embrace and adhere to your comments, suggestions and advise. She was like a second mother to me and I feel a great loss, but I know she is in a much better place along with my mom and dad. Love to you and your beautiful family and will see you soon. God Bless always.
Joe Milas
Fred said…
What can I say, we are always too young to lose our parents

All my best
Anonymous said…
What a wonderful Mom you had. When I read that last line about your Dad whispering "I love you" in her ear my heart skipped a beat...that is true love..."until death do we part". My condolences to you and your family.

Jamie said…
A lovely eulogy, I hope you can celebrate her life - you were blessed.

I no longer have my parents and I am about to have my first child, I hope I can reflect on these 'lessons' and be as inspirational to my child.
Mis Anthropy said…
She sounds amazing!!!
Isaac Levy said…
My favorite post Dave. Well written.

Isaac :)

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