Mother’s Day: Daughters recall best advice their moms ever gave them

Grace Lahiff and daughter Barbara Pohlig.

Paoli >> Mothers are the emotional backbone of just about every family. In fact, if it weren’t for your mother you wouldn’t be reading this now. You wouldn’t even be breathing. They are that important. We asked residents of Daylesford Crossing, a SageLife senior community in Paoli, and their daughters to respond to the question, “What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?”

Mother Chrysi Sophocles and daughter Ana Hadgis

Chrysi: My mother wanted all her children to do something positive and work hard. When I was growing up, I went to Greek School for two hours after public school. We were constantly studying, constantly doing errands and working hard to create a good life. My mother had a very positive outlook on life, and she taught us to follow the teachings of the Bible and to always tell the truth.

My parents came to the United States from Greece, and life wasn’t always easy. My father owned a candy and ice cream store in Bristol, Ct., where he made the candy and served customers. It was a harder life than it sounds, but he was always positive. I sometimes helped around the store, and I remember one time I wanted to go to a ball game rather than help my father. And, my mother said, “Shame on you. Your father is depending on you.” So, family was very important to us.

Ana: That’s what my mother taught me too: to work hard, be the best you can be to attain what you want. If you work hard and are good to other people, good things will come to you. I think the idea of persevering is ingrained in both my mother and me. If either of us had a problem to deal with, we might not be able to solve it right away. But, Mom always taught us that inside of us we had the capability to solve any challenge. If you persevere and you have a good heart and a good mind, eventually you’ll be able to solve the problem.

Mother Grace Lahiff and daughter Barbara Pohlig

Grace: My mother taught the importance of the Golden Rule, to treat other people the way you wanted to be treated. She taught us – I’m one of eight children – by example. She was very friendly; she could talk to anyone, and everyone she met became a friend. I never heard Mom say anything bad about anyone.

Members of our extended family often turned to my father for help. He was a caterer in Jersey City, New Jersey – and even with eight children, he and Mom would open our home to other relatives to live with us. There was always room for more family members.

Barbara: Mom taught me that you can’t solve all the world’s problems; you can only take care of the situations in the world around you. So, community volunteerism was important to our family. We felt it was our obligation to give back; to make sure our community had what it needed; to fill in the gaps for some people. Volunteerism has been a very important part of my life as an adult. I’ve volunteered for the Women’s Resource Center in Wayne for years. I was a volunteer in the West Chester District Attorney’s office and I help with projects at my church, such as a Christmastime “giving tree” project and a community food drive.

One other piece of advice Mom gave me: There’s always room in the freezer for ice cream.

Mother Dolores McFadden and daughter Michele Porreca

Dolores: My mother taught me to never be afraid to do things I thought were beyond my capabilities – that I could do anything I wanted to do. She was a very strong person; she raised four children but also had her own business; she made bridal gowns at her shop in Ardmore. She was very talented; there was nothing she couldn’t do. And, all four of her children went on to be successful. One brother was a surgeon, another was a pharmacist and my sister was a teacher and a musician. I didn’t think I could do anything but be a mother. But, after raising six children, I got my first job. Eventually I became head of corporate business services for InterDigital Communications, and I travelled all over the world opening offices for the company. It was very exciting going from not thinking I could do anything special to finding out that I could. And I encouraged the people I worked with to “go for it,” too.

Michele: Mom gave me a lot of valuable advice growing up, but more than words it was her actions that influenced me. She taught all six kids to be self-reliant, and she made me believe that I could do anything I wanted to do. I graduated from college, and Mom advised me to let somebody else pay for my graduate work, so I did; I got my MBA by asking my employer to sponsor me. As a result of my education, I’ve had a wonderful career in the pharmaceutical industry and, like Mom, I’ve gotten to travel all over the world – places I would never have been without the good advice Mom gave me.

Mom taught me that life isn’t perfect, and that you have to be resilient and rise to the challenge. You know the saying: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. As a human resources manager, that’s the kind of person I look for, too – people who can overcome adversity in order to be successful.

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