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What I Learned From My Mother

Paul was born and grew up in Wisconsin. He is married to a Thai and living in Thailand. He has Swiss, German, and Austrian ancestry.

The Author and His Mother

Author and mother.  Picture was taken in 2008.

Author and mother. Picture was taken in 2008.

My Mother as a Role Model

My mother was a role model throughout my life.

As a young boy, my mom taught me the meaning of unrequited love. This was expressed in her love for dad, my siblings, and me, My mother also showed me how to behave and respect elders.

As I grew older, my mom encouraged me to be the best student and dare to be different. She also demonstrated how to be kind and generous and unprejudiced toward other people.

Finally, in her later years, my mother taught me the power of prayer.

My Mom and Children in 1958

From left to right:  Patty, mom, Beatrice, Philip, and author.  My youngest sister Connie wasn't born until 1959.

From left to right: Patty, mom, Beatrice, Philip, and author. My youngest sister Connie wasn't born until 1959.

What I Learned From My Mother

In this article, I reflect on what I learned from my mother. These lessons include

  1. Be kind and generous.
  2. Don't waste.
  3. Be a good student.
  4. Dare to be different.
  5. Stand up for your rights.
  6. Don't be prejudiced.
  7. Believe in the power of prayer.

1. Be Kind and Generous

My mother was one of the kindest and most generous persons that I have ever known. She exhibited these traits not only to immediate family members but also to relatives and friends.

Any guest in our home was always welcome to dinner. Vegetables in our garden were frequently given to relatives and friends.

My mom was especially kind and generous to family members. She would often take in food to my eldest sister and brother-in-law in Milwaukee who had a big family and were struggling financially.

As my mother often said, "If you are kind and generous, God will repay you."

2. Don't Waste

After moving to a farm in 1954 when I was nine, our family did not have very much money. Consequently, we grew vegetables in a big garden and had our milk and eggs from cows and chickens.

Since we didn't have that much to spend on food, my mother made sure that we ate everything on our plates and did not waste it. Leftovers weren't thrown away but used for meals the following day.

3. Be a Good Student

My mother was a good student when young but unfortunately had to drop out of school after the ninth grade. She realized the importance of reading and being a good student.

I can still remember some of the books in our bookcase. We had an encyclopedia set and also books by Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, and other classic authors.

My mom made sure that I did my homework every night and often quizzed me on spelling words that I had learned. She also encouraged me to go to college and get a good education.

Author's High School Graduation 1962

High school graduation 1962.  My mom, author, and dad

High school graduation 1962. My mom, author, and dad

4. Dare to be Different

My mother knew that to be successful and happy in life you had to stand out from others. Therefore, she often exhorted me to dare to be different and not be afraid to try new things and have different experiences.

I followed my mom's advice and learned Chinese after entering the Navy. I traveled and lived in many East Asian countries learning different languages and cultures. I even married Taiwanese and Thai women.

5. Stand Up for Your Rights

I remember my mom as a very strong person who never let anyone push her around.

When I was about 10, I first noticed this trait when the landlord of our rented farm in 1954 tried to take advantage of mom and dad. Old Mr. McNally came up to our house one afternoon while I was upstairs. He must have said something to upset my mother because I could hear her giving Mac a piece of her mind. After that, the landlord stopped bullying my parents.

In 1976, I introduced a travel agent who turned out to be dishonest toward my youngest sister. After the agent bumped Connie off a paid charter flight to Taiwan in Los Angeles, my mother made sure that Louie reimbursed Connie for the plane ticket.

6. Don't Be Prejudiced

My eldest sister and I have both had interracial marriages. I have been married to Asian women and my sister married an Afro-American.

Unlike some people, my mom never showed prejudice toward my wives or my sister's husband. She also never displayed any prejudice toward her grandchildren.

According to my mother, color is only skin deep and all people are the same.

Sister Connie's Wedding Picture in 2002

Mom is in the back standing to the right of Connie.  Taken in Nov. 2002

Mom is in the back standing to the right of Connie. Taken in Nov. 2002

7. Believe in The Power of Prayer

Finally, my mother taught me about the power of prayer. Whenever our family had trouble, mom always urged us to pray to God or the Saints to ease our burden. My mother believed that if you prayed hard and long enough, God will listen and answer your prayers.

Prayer has helped me throughout life. My prayers for friends and relatives have also been answered.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Paul Richard Kuehn

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