I like lists. I find them quite useful. They keep me organized. Or at least they create the illusion of doing so. A nifty thing about lists is how they come chock-a-block with little goals. Each line item something to be accomplished. Been there. Done that. Now move on. And there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of scratching something off the list. Personally, I like to draw a thick heavy line right through the achievement. Preferably in permanent ink. Finito.
There are daily lists. Like the “to do/call/email” list at work. Some are weekly. Grocery lists fall into this category. Others are annual. The family Christmas wish list reigns supreme. Some are fun. Like the list of things we need for our Annual Thanksgiving Bluegrass Party. Then there are sundry others. Everything from books to read, songs to download, places to see, people to meet, things to keep and things to chuck. All worthwhile and handy to have in your hip pocket.
One of the best lists I have ever compiled is the one that I am sharing with you today. It’s a list of some of the things that Ma taught me during the course of our lifetime together. These are things she said, did, led by example, or simply implied. There are 101 things on this list. There could have been one thousand or one million. Because she taught me so much and I am so very grateful. But I’ve narrowed the list down to 101. I like this number. It reminds me of the first year course numbers when I was in University. English 101. Pyschology 101. Anthropology 101 where I met my first true love. It’s a solid number with the implication that there is more to come. And who knows. Maybe there is.
The list isn’t in any particular order. It’s random. Like life. Some things are common sense. Others uncommon. Extraordinary. Some are peculiar. And contradictory. Some are funny. Others very sad. At times confusing. Often profound in simplicity. And full of classic cliches of the time. But also bright. And wise. Witty. Practical. Pragmatic. Confounding. Infuriating. Loving. Tender. Touching.
Cherished gifts each and every one. From Ma to me. To you. With love.
1. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
2. You can’t make someone love you.
3. Always wear clean underwear. Carry a pair in your purse just in case.
4. Tomorrow’s another day and this too shall pass.
5. The secret to baking a good cookie is to remove it from the oven just before it’s done and let it finish baking on the sheet.
6. Time heals all wounds.
7. You can’t take it with you when you go.
8. Bad breath is better than no breath at all.
9. Everybody needs love even those who are difficult like your father.
10. God is inside of me.
11. The secret to a good spaghetti sauce is to let it simmer all day.
12. Don’t complain. No one’s listening anyway.
13. Nobody’s perfect. They just wish they were.
14. Life is far too short.
15. Send your child to school in fresh clean clothes every day even if it means doing laundry every night.
16. Don’t go out in the sun without a big hat and long sleeves.
17. Walk whenever possible and always have a comfortable pair of shoes at the back door ready to go.
18. You don’t need make-up, except for lipstick. It brightens your face and makes you look pretty.
19. Keep a nice home and welcome everyone into it.
20. Always tell the truth. No one trusts liars.
21. Pay attention to how the dog reacts to your boyfriends. The dog is a good judge of character.
22. Splurge on a really nice dress for a special occasion. Treat yourself and don’t feel guilty. It’s important to feel good when you go out.
23. Don’t walk around the house with your shoes on. It’s rude.
24. Always wash your face and put on night cream before going to bed. Repeat in the morning with day cream. Moisturizing is the key to beautiful skin all your life.
25. Pick up a “Ladies” magazine while you’re grocery shopping. It’s an inexpensive treat.
26. Not everyone belongs in a group.
27. Don’t throw Tupperware parties. No one will come.
28. Stay away from bad people. Especially men who are bad for you. You’ll get hurt every time.
29. Call if you need me. Anytime. Anywhere. I’ll be right there.
30. Babies like to be picked up when they cry.
31. Nothing beats flannel pajamas and nighties.
32. Take pictures of the cakes you bake, the flowers you are sent, the gifts you are given, the Christmas tree every year even if it looks the same, it’s different.
33. Support a third world child regardless of your financial situation.
34. Cry when you’re sad. Yell when you’re mad. Sit silently when you need to think. Laugh at the funny things.
35. Get up early. Put the kettle on first thing. Start your day with a cup of tea and piece of toast.
36. It’s okay to wear comfortable clothes around the house just as long as they’re freshly washed and ironed. Being comfortable isn’t the same thing as being a slob.
37. You can never give a child enough love. That’s not what spoils them.
38. Accept invitations to lunch or an afternoon shopping at the mall.
39. It’s okay to fall asleep on the couch while watching television.
40. Don’t worry about your age. There’s nothing you can do about it.
41. Always send Thank You cards.
42. Remember everyone’s birthday with a homemade cake and a nicely wrapped gift. At the very least give a special card.
43. Take care of your teeth. False teeth just aren’t the same as your own.
44. Invite people to stay for dinner. There’s always plenty.
45. Make the bed as soon as you get up.
46. Have supper together every night and make Sunday dinner extra special. Roast something. Have the entire family over.
47. Give people the benefit of the doubt and don’t hold grudges.
48. You don’t need a reason to give a gift or to send someone a note to let them know you’re thinking of them.
49. Try not to hurt someone’s feelings but apologize right away when you do.
50. Mind your manners. Always say please and thank you.
51. Wash your hands all day long but especially before touching food.
52. Bounce a baby on your lap and sing “doodley doodley doodley doo.”
53. Pick up litter when you see it. Stuff it in your pocket if there isn’t a garbage nearby and throw it out when you get home.
54. Never let your grey roots show. It makes you look old.
55. Baths are better than showers.
56. Always bring out the good china for company and on special occasions.
57. You’re never too old to start something new.
58. Nothing tastes quite as good as a sandwich made with lettuce freshly picked from the garden.
59. It’s okay to buy certain things for your home “on time.”
60. Write letters. Everyone loves getting them.
61. No one will love you like your mother. Especially a man.
62. Some people can be mean. That doesn’t make okay for you to be mean back.
63. Take all kinds of vitamins and supplements. They’re good for you.
64. People with thin lips are nags.
65. Pay your bills every month no matter how broke you are. Even if it’s just a little bit to everyone you owe.
66. It’s a sign of beauty if a girl looks like her father.
67. Get the dishes done right after you eat.
68. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and enjoy dessert.
69. Learn to sew clothes, embroider tablecloths and knit scarves. Teach these to your daughters.
70. Learn to cook and bake, especially if you have children.
71. Read everything you can about being healthy and subscribe to Prevention Magazine.
72. Try to see the good in everyone.
73. Every child born to our family is wanted and loved.
74. Exercise every day. Walk. Do yoga. Ride an exercise bike.
75. Go back to school at sixty.
76. Don’t waste your time gossiping.
77. A health food store is a good place to shop.
78. The secret to a perfect pie crust is a secret. But here’s the recipe.
79. Be kind and decent to everyone no matter who they are.
80. Walk facing the traffic at all times.
81. Be nice.
82. Don’t go empty handed to someone’s house.
83. Pray for people whether they asked you to or not. Especially your children.
84. Don’t go blabbing family business to the neighbors.
85. You can do anything you want to if you put your mind to it.
86. You’re just as good as anyone.
87. Always make lemon pie from scratch. It’s worth it.
88. Forgive and forget. Sometimes it’s easier said than done though.
89. Celebrate the holidays with your family. Have big wonderful meals and lots of gifts under the tree.
90. You don’t have to get married to be married.
91. Potatoes are versatile.
92. No matter how afraid you are, get on the plane.
93. Respect your elders and those in authority, especially teachers and police officers. Their jobs are hard enough.
94. Don’t be a show off, braggart or know-it-all. No one likes people like that.
95. It’s important to have a room of your own to sew or paint or make things.
96. Always have Kleenex up your sleeve and a package of peppermint Chicklets in your purse.
97. Offer your seat on the bus to older people and pregnant women.
98. Italians are nice people.
99. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, especially to children.
100. You only get out of life what you put into it.
101. You’re never too old to play on a swing.