I interviewed my mom for Mother’s Day
Questions you can ask your parents at any age
Mother’s Day is approaching.
My mom is simple on the outside, and complicated on the inside.
I always think if my mother and I were the same age, our paths would not cross because we are so different.
But, there is a lesson to be learned from family members who are different from us. After all, we choose our friends, but not our family. We are stuck with them, so let’s make the best of the journey.
I admire her independence and her resilience to some major forced changes she encountered. Tragedies can either destroy you, or make you stronger.
My mom has survived a lot of tragedies. You would expect her to be bitter and hostile towards others, but she is the total opposite: It seemed the more tragedies she experienced, the more loving and understanding she became.
I don’t know where she gets this strength from. Is it talent? Faith? Love? Her family? Or are all mothers genuinely stronger?
Interview with mom
Tell me a little bit about your childhood life in your Greek village
“My mother died from a field-mine when she worked on our farm during the Second World War. I was two years old. My father never re-married because he loved her too much. I was the youngest and the only girl among three strict brothers and because of this I was over-protected. As I grew older, it felt stifling. It was also lonely because when I had girl problems I had to seek help on my own either from an aunt or a female neighbor. Back then we didn’t have phones, TV, or internet. We had to find out information from real people, people we had to trust. Luckily I left when I was 13 years old.”
In your opinion, how different was it living as a child in a village in the 1940s than it is living as a child in the city today?
“Well, I will not say crazy things did not occur back then. If they did, it was more hidden and a lot less. We did not hear of things like child molestation, rape, or drugs. None of these were in the open. Because of this, there was more innocence in the air. That kind of environment is wonderful for a child to thrive in. I remember enjoying nature. We were connected to the earth, the flowers, the animals and the rivers. In the evenings, we had no radio or television which forced families to meet and tell stories. I would say there was more of a stronger community than there is today.”
What was the craziest thing you have ever done? And would you do it again?
“When your father and I eloped. I would do it again, even though after 50 years of marriage he gets on my nerves. Ha, ha.”
Why did you choose my father as a husband?
“His respect for me. He never pushed me to do things I did not want to do. He was a gentleman who walked me to school every day and carried my books. He enjoyed talking to me. We fell in love before we kissed. His courage in claiming his love for me solidified my love for him. For example, I was going to high-school in a different town and lived with a female roommate. Our high-school teachers would unexpectedly visit our rooms to check on our living conditions. If they suspected anything out of the ordinary, we would be disciplined and suspended. When your father walked me to school, I warned him of my teacher seeing us. With confidence, he said he was not afraid because he would tell her he would marry me. He knew he loved me, he was committed and never gave up on me to this day.”
How old were you when you moved away from home to go to high school in another town? How was the experience?
“I was 13 years old. I had a female roommate my age. This was common back then because villages did not have high schools. It was quite exciting to live on our own. We did not do anything out of the ordinary like smoking, drinking and doing drugs. We were smart enough not to have any sexual relations with any willing men. Times were innocent and our lives were responsible. We cooked our own foods, cleaned and did our home-work. Being on our own was a natural high in itself.”
What was it like to leave Greece and Germany to live in Canada?
“When you are young, everything is an adventure. We were very lucky to have your aunt and uncle help us in Canada. We heard so many great things about this country, and when we arrived for the first year I felt like I was in heaven. Everything was so much bigger. Bigger streets, bigger homes, bigger cars. The hard times came later when your father ended up working two to three jobs to keep me from working and staying with the kids. Since we did not have our own parents to help us, I had to stay home and your father had to over-work to buy a house and to feed a family of four children.”
What was your worst fear in Canada?
“When your father was working as a taxi driver in the evenings until mornings. I had insomnia. He had a bad experience one time coming home bleeding from being attacked by some customers.
Also, worrying about my children getting sick. I was alone at home with you guys and not knowing the language made me fear going to the doctor because I couldn’t communicate properly.
One funny time, I took you to the doctor because you all had chicken pocks. I did not know the name of the illness, so when the doctor told me you had chicken pocks, I thought he was talking about chickens and boxes. So when your father asked me that evening what the doctor said, I told him I was confused because the doctor mentioned chickens and boxes. As a result both your father and I were confused.”
What is the one thing you would like to change about yourself?
“I would like to be more assertive. I am too much of a pleaser.
Tell me something about me when I was a child.
“In Germany, we lived in a third floor apartment. The balconies had very tight bars for child safety. You were three years old when you found an opening between the bars. You slipped in between them and swung your body over the balcony by holding onto a bar with one arm. You could have fallen and killed yourself. There was a small worried crowd beneath. You thought they were an audience so you continued to entertain them. I was in the kitchen cooking. The door knocked and a German lady had alarmed me about you.”
What is the one advice you would like to share with me?
“When you see people upset and angry, try to understand them. People who say hurtful things are hurting inside. With a smile and a friendly approach you can change a person’s mood. I believe we can sincerely change people with true love, not with revenge and punishment. Punishment may change someone in the short term but in the long run the person’s pain will not go away. Only love and understanding can help pain. An eye for an eye will only make everyone blind.”
What is your greatest achievement?
“When I overcame chronic depression on my own, by changing my lifestyle. You were in high-school. I was bed ridden for a year. I had no interest in getting out of bed. Life seemed too short and insignificant. I would not wish this kind of depression on my worst enemy. It was a very long, dark and lonely world.
The doctors sold me medications but I was too scared to take them. So instead, I started changing my lifestyle. I started walking for hours a day, I started yoga which I still do today, and I started eating more vegetables. The doctors were amazed but warned me that without the medications I would get depressed again.
Today I lead a healthier lifestyle than I ever led before but I do take a small portion of medication.”
In your opinion what is the advantage of aging?
“I feel I know myself more and more each year. I like to think the more time on earth allows me to find my purpose, or to reach my enlightened self. This in turn could prepare me for death.”
How has the passing of your son changed you?
“When a loved one passes, your thoughts of that person becomes obsessive, and the love intensifies. When loved ones are alive, we take them for granted.
I am living with a deep pain which will be with me forever. I think about him mostly at night. I think about him from the time he was born until his last days. When a child leaves before you, he is on your mind every day.
I learn to live with the pain.”
What is important in life from today until the future?
“To live a peaceful life with the rest of my children and grandchildren. To be healthy and to die peacefully without pain.”
“What is the funniest thing you ever did?”
“The Lyoner story.
About twenty years ago, I managed a popular Italian deli grocery store over town. I had so much fun there because the younger staff absolutely loved me. They thought I was funny and very warm and friendly. Bless their souls because they helped me with my limited language.
Every week, a meat distributor would visit the store to talk about ordering new shipments. One day a sales man came in and asked to see “the owner” of the store. You see, I thought he said he wanted to see the “Lyoner” sausage, so I went to the fridge and pulled out the “Lyoner” sausage and placed it in front of him. I said, here is “Lyoner”.
He smiled at me and then asked if he could speak to “the owner”. I looked at him with confusion thinking he was a bit odd. I told him “well, this is Lyoner, go ahead.”
He looked at me puzzled, as I anticipated how he was going to talk to it. He calmly looked at me with a smile and said, ‘Hmm, that’s nice, now…can I please talk to the “owner”?’
I looked at him thinking, ok, he needs a holiday. Clearly, he has lost his mind. I anxiously said, “I can assure you this is Lyoner”. Then I realized that maybe he wanted to talk to it alone, so I left him with the sausage.
Now, this poor salesman probably thought I was losing my mind too. Could a sausage own the store?
I panicked and went to the back to ask for assistance. I told one of the nice girls that there was a crazy man in a nice suit who wants to talk to the sausage. The girl ran out curiously and after one minute came back laughing. She went to get the owner of the store and I understood immediately.
My limited English language has gotten me into many troubles like this one. Luckily they were all for laughs.”
Hope you enjoyed the interview. Now here are some daring questions you can ask your aging parents. I didn’t get a chance to ask my mom so perhaps you can.
- When you think about a fork in the road in your life, what was it and why did you choose that path?
- What was your second choice for my name?
- What have you always wanted to tell me, but haven’t had the courage to?
- What was your biggest regret?
- What amazes you most about society today?
- What were you doing when you were my age?
- What advice would you give your 40-year-old self?
- What do you remember most about your wedding day?
- What have YOU always wanted to ask ME?
I challenge you to ask your mom some questions on Mother’s Day, or try to learn something new about her this year.
If you enjoyed this interview please show some love by hitting the applause button. Don’t forget to share it so others can read it.
In the meantime, Happy Mother’s Day.