What do you fear about retirement?

May 29, 2008

Retirement Planning Wisdom from an Involuntary Retired President Of The United States and Some Retirement Quotes

Jimmy Carter was in his mid-50s when he had to face what he deemed as "involuntary retirement." He and his wife Rosalynn thought that they had another four years in the White House, but Jimmy was defeated in his bid for re-election as President of the United States. He stated, "We went back to a little village that only had a population of 600; I didn't have a job, and I had no prospect of getting a job. To my amazement, I found that my very prosperous [peanut] business, which I had put in a blind trust, was a million dollars in debt because of three years of drought in Georgia."

Despite the fact that Jimmy and Rosalynn had to face some real big problems, Jimmy Carter found involuntary retirement to be a blessing instead of a curse. Indeed, Carter told Barbara Walters that compared to all the other things he did in his past, including being President, retirement is the best time in his life. He feels that many Americans approach retirement with a great deal of dread, uncertainty, and fear when, in fact, all those feelings are totally unjustified.

After his retirement in 1981, Carter has done everything from monitoring elections in developing nations to negotiating peace with warring factions to attending funerals of foreign dignitaries to building homes for the homeless to being spokesperson for numerous charitable causes. He and Rosalynn also stay physically active by skiing, swimming, and mountain climbing. After all this, he still finds time to surf the Internet and keep in touch with children and grandchildren in many parts of the world via e-mail.

In an interview with Ron Hogan of Amazon.com, Carter extolled the benefits that he and his wife reaped from being retired: "I would say that everything we now do that is productive and helps other people, or that's enjoyable and benefits ourselves, are new ideas that we never had before we were retiring. I never thought about being a professor, and I'm now in my 16th year as a professor at Emory University. And I've just finished my 13th book, when I never thought about being an author."

Carter added, "We never had climbed a mountain, and now we've climbed Mount Kilimanjaro; we've been 1,100 feet above the base camp at Mount Everest. I went up and down Mount Fuji with Rosalynn after I was 70 years old. I never saw downhill skis until I was 62 years old and Rosalynn was 59, and now we go ski in Colorado a couple of times a year. Those are the kind of things that we've taken on that we never dreamed of doing when we reached retirement."

May 20, 2008

Retirement Planning Wisdom - Secrets That Aren't All That Secret

Retirement Living Image



Preparation for retirement living requires mental and spiritual planning more than most people realize. A long-term plan to achieve retirement goals has to be set if the retiree wants a meaningful and productive retirement. The degree to which the retiree plans beforehand how she is going to spend the bulk of her free time will determine how much fulfillment she experiences in retirement.

Gerontologist Ken Dychtwald, author of Age Power and arguably the foremost expert on
aging and retirement in the United States, had this to say about the impact of poor planning: "The good news is that people are experiencing retirements that are long, fulfilling and exciting. The bad news is that many retirees will never experience their full potential during this life phase because of inadequate planning."

I received the following letter from Dick Phillips of Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, after he read
The Joy of Not Working. You will notice that Mr. Philips hasn't left having a happy retirement to chance.

    Dear Mr. Zelinski:

    My wife Sandy and I were on an Air Canada flight to Vancouver this summer to commence a "Life of Riley" retirement holiday in your lovely country when a fellow female passenger introduced me to your book
    The Joy of Not Working.

    I later obtained a copy at Duthie's Bookstore and read it when I returned home. (Riley did not allow time for reading on holidays.) I am fifty-four years of age and have worked since I was fifteen years old: first, as a fitter and turner apprentice, then as a seagoing-ships engineer before joining the County Police for a thirty-year career. Your book gives much sound advice, some I have been following for years. I have enjoyed developing interests outside work while still working. When I retired last November, I enjoyed the freedom to parcel up my time and develop interests which include hiking, cycling, old car restoration, model engineering, painting and D. I. Y. projects. You are right that a positive attitude to life in retirement is essential.

    In your book, you write about a fellow officer named Rich who, like me, retired in an enviable position but found life difficult. I hope he has now read your book, and he is developing that inner self that makes all things possible. Meanwhile, I am looking forward to next year, when I join a team building a large, wooden sailing ship for disabled people, and later finding time to revisit Canada.

    Regards to Riley,

    Dick Phillips


Above all, Mr. Philips emphasizes the importance of having to develop many interests outside of work when we are still working. He shows us that retirement can be highly rewarding if we plan ahead. Of course, developing new interests and setting new goals can still enhance our retirement years if we haven't developed many interests in our working years. It may just be more difficult doing it this way. Some psychologists say that it's hard to develop new interests at 65 after being interested in nothing but work and material things for over 40 years.

Strong interests in such things as music, travel, people, languages, music, and books are important. Ideally, these interests should be shaped and developed long before your retirement date so that you know which activities you truly enjoy. Generally speaking, leisure activities that fulfill you during your working years are likely to fulfill you in retirement.

Real success at handling leisure will result in a happy retirement and truly enjoying the advantages of retirement. Indeed, retirement planning secrets aren't all that secret.


Note: The above letter along with many other
retirement letters from retired people about how they are enjoying retirement have been included in the 21st Century Edition of Author Ernie Zelinski,'s international bestseller The Joy of Not Working: A Book for the Retired, Unemployed and Overworked (over 225,000 copies sold and published in 17 languages).

Ernie Zelinski's Books under the Vipbooks and Ten Speed Press Author imprints have now sold over 500,000 copies worldwide.

Cover Image of The Joy of Not Working



Purchase The Joy of Not Working by Vipbooks Author Ernie Zelinski with these direct links: and

May 16, 2008

Retirement Lifestyles

According to a new retirement lifestyle survey, the ongoing volatility within financial markets has prompted a massive increased awareness toward retirement savings by Australian baby boomers.
More than three out of four Aussie baby boomers are beefing up their savings strategy as a result of the turmoil, according to a Commonwealth Bank survey.

The majority of changes included making bigger or additional contributions to their retirement savings plan, while about a third said they were investing more in other investments outside retirement plans such as shares or property.

Interestingly, the Retirement Lifestyle survey found almost 40 per cent of those surveyed considered retirement an opportunity to pursue a new career or learn new skills.

"This trend suggests that many people see retirement as a series of transitions where some form of work or community service can continue into the retirement years,'' Commonwealth Financial Planning general manager Tim Gunnin said.

According to TD Waterhouse's first Canadians and Retirement survey of already-retired Canadians, retirement is different from what many Canadians imagined it would be.

Twenty percent of women found retirement quite different from what they imagined, versus 15 percent of the men.

A quarter of Canadian retirees aged 55 to 70 found it hard to adjust to a life no longer defined by their work. Financial constraints meant they could not do all the things they used to do for 22 percent of those surveyed.

Retirement advice was offered by retirees to those contemplating retirement.


  • Workers should develop a full life outside of work instead of waiting to do so at retirement
  • Workers should take care of their physical and mental health
  • Workers should save for retirement as early as possible.
  • People should pay off all debt before retiring.
    Above all, individuals should take time to prepare for and understand what they want from retirement.
According to the TD Waterhouse only 15 percent of indiviudals are “completely living out their retirement dreams.” Lack of planning appears to be one reason for this.

Surprisingly, the best part of retirement is simple pleasures, say the retirees. Spending time with family and engaging in hobbies also are satisfying as is volunteering.


May 13, 2008

Advice on How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free

According to TD Waterhouse's first Canadians and Retirement survey of already-retired Canadians, retirement is different from what many Canadians imagined it would be.

Twenty percent of women found retirement quite different from what they imagined, versus 15 percent of the men.

A quarter of Canadian retirees aged 55 to 70 found it hard to adjust to a life no longer defined by their work. Financial constraints meant they could not do all the things they used to do for 22 percent of those surveyed.

Retirement advice was offered by retirees to those contemplating retirement.
  • Workers should develop a full life outside of work instead of waiting to do so at retirement
  • Workers should take care of their physical and mental health
  • Workers should save for retirement as early as possible.
  • People should pay off all debt before retiring.
    Above all, individuals should take time to prepare for and understand what they want from retirement.
According to the TD Waterhouse only 15 percent of indiviudals are “completely living out their retirement dreams.” Lack of planning appears to be one reason for this.

Surprisingly, the best part of retirement is simple pleasures, say the retirees. Spending time with family and engaging in hobbies also are satisfying as is volunteering.

May 11, 2008

Retirement Quotes and Retirement Sayings about How Important Money Is for Your Retirement

According to a new retirement lifestyle survey, the ongoing volatility within financial markets has prompted a massive increased awareness toward retirement savings by Australian baby boomers.

More than three out of four Aussie baby boomers are beefing up their savings strategy as a result of the turmoil, according to a Commonwealth Bank survey.

The majority of changes included making bigger or additional contributions to their retirement savings plan, while about a third said they were investing more in other investments outside retirement plans such as shares or property.

Interestingly, the Retirement Lifestyle survey found almost 40 per cent of those surveyed considered retirement an opportunity to pursue a new career or learn new skills.



"This trend suggests that many people see retirement as a series of transitions where some form of work or community service can continue into the retirement years,'' Commonwealth Financial Planning general manager Tim Gunnin said.



Importance of Money in Retirement (Quotes and Sayings)

May 9, 2008

Mother's Day Reminder # 2 - Mother's Day Flowers, Mother's Day Cards, and Mother's Day Candy Are Not the True Essence of Mother's Day

Anna May Jarvis - Mothers Day Image

Photo of Anna May Jarvis - Founder of Mother's Day

As much as I loved my mother Violet Zelinski, it will come as a surprise to some people that over the years I didn't buy her Mother's Day flowers, Mother's Day cards, or Mother's Day candy for Mother's Day. I did buy her dinner, however, and spent quality time with her every Mother's Day. Perhaps you should do likewise every Mother's Day.

Truth be known, you don't have to feel guilty about not buying Mother's Day gifts, Mother's Day flowers, or Mother's Day cards to help your mother celebrate Mother's Day. Not buying your mother cards, flowers, or candy to help her celebrate this special event is not about being stingy and saving yourself a few bucks, however. There is a much better reason. We have to go back to the origins of Mother's Day to place this in proper perspective.

Anna May Jarvis was just two weeks shy of forty-two, working for a life insurance company in Philadelphia, when her mother (Mrs. Anna Reese Jarvis) died on May 9, 1905. It was the second Sunday of the month. The next year Anna May Jarvis made her life goal to see her mother and motherhood honored annually throughout the world. Jarvis felt children often neglected to appreciate their mother enough while she was still alive. She hoped Mother's Day would increase respect for parents and strengthen family bonds.

Two years after her mother's death, Anna Jarvis and her friends began a letter-writing campaign to gain the support of influential ministers, businessmen, and congressmen in declaring a national Mother's Day holiday. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation from the U.S. Congress to establish the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day forevermore.

Ironically, the commercialization of the day she had founded in honor of motherhood - today it is the biggest business day of the year for U.S. restaurants and flower shops - was not what Anna May Jarvis had envisioned. Jarvis wanted people to spend a lot of quality time with their mothers and let their mothers know how special they were.

Sadly, Jarvis, who never married and was never a mother herself, retired from her job at the insurance company to spend her remaining thirty-four years, and her entire fortune of over $100,000, campaigning against the commercialization of Mother's Day.

Whenever she could, Anna May Jarvis would speak out. She was known to crash florists' conventions to express her distaste for their "profiteering" from Mother's Day. Eventually too old to continue her campaign, she ended up deaf and blind - not to mention penniless - in a West Chester, Pennsylvania, sanitarium, where she died in November 1948 at the age of eighty-four.

"Why not give your mother Mother's Day flowers, Mother's Day cards, or Mother's Day candy?" you may ask. "Flowers," declared Jarvis, "are about half dead by the time they're delivered." As for candy, Jarvis advised, "Mother's Day has nothing to do with candy. Candy is junk. You give your mother a box of candy and then go home and eat most of it yourself."

"Then what's wrong with Mother's Day cards?" you may add. Jarvis felt that "a maudlin, insincere printed card or a ready-made telegram means nothing except that you're too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone else in the world."

Tell your mother the truth about Mother's Day and you won't have to spend money on Mother's Day flowers, Mother's Day candy, or Mother's Day cards to help her celebrate her special event of the year. Heck, you don't even have to buy her a copy of one of my books as a Mother's Day gift. You should, however, make her a special gourmet dinner or take her out to a fine restaurant. Don't cheap out!

Most important, you should spend a lot of quality time with your mother on Mother's Day. She will appreciate this immensely. What's more, if she were still living today, Anna May Jarvis would be so pleased that you celebrate the second Sunday of May with your mother in the essence and the true spirit of Mother's Day!

NOTE: The above article is adapted from the chapter called Flowers, Cards, and Candy Are Not the Essence of Mother's Day! in the book 101 Really Important Things You Already Know, But Keep Forgetting (Vipbooks, 2007) by Ernie Zelinski. The book is dedicated to Ernie's mother Violet Zelinski (Waselyna Gordychuk) who passed away while Ernie was writing the latest edition of the book.

Following is a photo of Ernie's mother Violet Zelinski (on right) with her best friend Mary Leshchyshyn:




Also See The True Spirit of Mother's Day


    #1 of Top-Ten Quotes about Moms and Mothers for Mother's Day

    Hundreds of dewdrops to greet the dawn,
    Hundreds of bees in the purple clover,
    Hundreds of butterflies on the lawn,
    But only one mother the wide world over.
    - George Cooper

    #2 Quote about Moms and Mothers for Mother's Day

    A mother's happiness is like a beacon, lighting up the future but reflected also on the past in the guise of fond memories.
    - Honoré de Balzac

    #3 Quote about Moms and Mothers for Mother's Day

    A father may turn his back on his child, brothers and sisters may become inveterate enemies, husbands may desert their wives, wives their husbands. But a mother's love endures through all.
    - Washington Irving

    #4 Quote about Moms and Mothers for Mother's Day

    My mother is a poem
    I'll never be able to write,
    though everything I write
    is a poem to my mother.
    - Sharon Doubiago

    #5 Quote about Moms and Mothers for Mother's Day

    One good mother is worth a hundred schoolmasters.
    - George Herbert

    #6 Quote about Moms and Mothers for Mother's Day

    There's nothing like a mama-hug.
    - Adabella Radici

    #7 Quote about Moms and Mothers for Mother's Day

    Who ran to help me when I fell,
    And would some pretty story tell,
    Or kiss the place to make it well?
    My mother.
    - Ann Taylor

    #8 Quote about Moms and Mothers for Mother's Day

    Mother - that was the bank where we deposited all our hurts and worries.
    - T. DeWitt Talmage

    #9 Quote about Moms and Mothers for Mother's Day

    Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.
    - William Makepeace Thackeray

    #10 Quote about Moms and Mothers for Mother's Day

    I miss thee, my Mother! Thy image is still
    The deepest impressed on my heart.
    - Eliza Cook





101 Really Important Things You Already Know, But Keep Forgetting



Mother's Day Gifts





Here's a book you can fall in love with just by reading the table of contents. It's entitled 101 Really Important Things You Already Know, But Keep Forgetting by Ernie
Zelinski
.

The table of contents listing those 101 things, plus a bonus of five more, is masterful, but so is each of the chapters expanding on each table of contents entry. If you are like most of us and have forgotten these lessons, I suspect you'll remember them after reading the book.

I flipped over the book because each lesson struck me as important and because reading the explanatory chapter convinced me in a persuasive and entertaining way that the lesson was important.

So first take a sample from the table of contents:

  • One true friend is worth more than 10,000 superficial ones.
  • Good deeds are seldom remembered; bad deeds are seldom forgotten.
  • The surest way to failure is trying to please everyone.
  • Your past is always going to be the way it was - so stop trying to change it.
  • A walk or run in nature is the best medicine for many of your ailments.
  • The shortcut to being truly fit and trim is long-term rigorous action.
  • Compromising your integrity for money, power, or fame will come back to haunt you.
  • If the grass on the other side of the fence is greener, try watering your side.
  • No matter how successful you become, the size of your funeral will still depend on the weather.
  • Be happy while you are alive because you are a long time dead.

I don't know about you, but I think those lessons of life are not only central to a good life but are also well stated. This Zelinski guy knows how to write prose that has the potential to become those old proverbs everyone repeats.

- From a Review by Herb Denenberg in the Philadelphia Bulletin

Download the Free E-book of 101 Really Important Things You Already Know, But Keep Forgetting with 17 free chapters at Ernie Zelinski's Creative Free E-Books Website.

Mothers Day Gift Image



Purchase 101 Really Important Things You Already Know, But Keep Forgetting (Vipbooks) at:


May 6, 2008

Real Success: What Fifteen Years of Hard Labor Can Do for You!

Edmonton Journal photo of author Thomas Trofimuk celebrating his $200,000 windfall.



Famous Author




In mid-2005, moments after my friend Harvey mentioned how long he had worked for the government, I realized that in October of that year it would be twenty-five years since I was fired from my engineering job at a public utility for taking two months of unapproved vacation. Better still, I realized that it would be twenty-five years since I had a real job. (This led to my writing the book Real Success Without a Real Job: The Career Book for People Too Smart to Work in Corportions).

Talk about real success — to me anyway! That called for a grand celebration with my paying the entire bill for a dinner at one of my favorite restaurants. I decided the purpose of the event was bigger than me; it was to reward all the individuals who had helped and supported me over the years. Virtually everything worked out when I had the celebration in October 2005.

Indeed, because of synchronistic events, some things worked out much better than I expected. Instead of a small TV set to show tapes of my appearances on national television, my friend Randy Edwards arranged to have his friend Robert come in and set up a DVD imager and a big screen. Twice as many people showed up as I had estimated. Much to my pleasant surprise, three of my friends flew in from Toronto, 3,500 miles from my hometown.

At the celebration, I tried to show a video that Randy Edwards had made of Thomas Trofimuk struggling with poetry and novel his writing at the Bistro Praha, one of my favorite restaurants. Nobody seemed to be interested in Thomas Trofimuk's struggles, perhaps because everyone was having a great time.

Last Thursday (May 1, 2008) I met my friend Robert Hoyles from Toronto at the Bistro Praha, the restaurant where the DVD of Thomas Trofimuk's writing struggles were made. Head waiter Milan told me that Thomas Trofimuk had been in just before to celebrate at the Bistro Braha. "What about," I asked. Milan had indicated that Thomas had just sold a novel for an advance for something like $100,000.

I thought, "This is so cool! The guy who no one at my celebration over two years ago wanted to watch struggling with his writing now gets an advance of $100,000. What was even funkier was reading an artilce in the Edmonton Journal and finding out that the advance was actually $200,000 for a novel that Thomas spent 15 years writing.

See the story at this link: City Writer Hits Jackpot with Third Novel.

I see Thomas Trofimuk's success as poetic justice. It shows what 15 years of hard labor (and the love of writing) can do for you!



Following are some inspirational quotes about the writing life that come from my Real Success website and from my E-book 1001 Best Things Ever Said about Work.

You don't write because you want to say something: You write because you've got something to say.
— F. Scott Fitzgerald

If you want to be a writer — stop talking about it and sit down and write!
— Jackie Collings

Write drunk; edit sober.
— Ernest Hemingway

When I had got my notes all written out I thought I'd polish it off in two summers, but it took me twenty-seven years.
— Arnold Toynbee

Writing books is certainly a most unpleasant occupation. It is lonesome, unsanitary, and maddening. Many authors go crazy.
— H. L. Mencken

Writing is a profession in which you have to keep proving your talent to people who have none.
— Jules Renard

Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money.
— Louis Untermeyer

More retirement sayings and retirement quotes coming soon from The Retirement Quotes Cafe



Review of Real Success Without a Real Job by Synchronicity Magazine


Career Change Book



Real Success Without a Real Job by Ernie J. Zelinski reads like a conversation with an old friend. The author found success in an unconventional way after losing his job as an engineer and has come to understand that the true path of happiness, contentment, and satisfaction lies in the discovery of one's ture passion or calling.

While pointing out that it may not be for everyone, the author proceeds to tell us of exciting realities that await those who dare to dream of a life lived on their own terms. We, not some faceless corporation, decide on the hours, vacation time, with whom we want to work, and what we are going to do today. To be able to say, "I love what I do and I have my freedom," is priceless to those who are not the corporate type.

Zelinski reminds us that real success is not measured merely by the 'all might dollar' but more so, by having a few good friends and the time to spend with them. He wants us to seriously consider if what it is we 'do', is what makes us happy and if it isn't, why not consider 'doing' that which does make us happy.

The book is 'peppered' with
quotes from people like Henry Ford, Jerry Garcia, Mother Teresa and Mad Magazine that give us an inspiring look into the mindsets of all these successful people and ideas. A quote by William James encompasses the central concept of the book, "The greatest discovery of my generation is that man can alter his life by altering his attitude."

One thing all these people seem to have in common is a committment to their vision. 'Work' isn't where they go each day. The task at hand becomes something to accomplish that will bring their dream closer to fruition. When you have an idea and exert the effort, success will follow.

Real Success Without a Real Job by Ernie Zelinski is a pleasure to read and its positive, up-beat message is full of hope and encouragement for those who are ready to become their own boss.

Careers Book



Download the Free E-book (in PDF format) with the first chapter of Real Success Without a Real Job : The Career Book for People Too Smart to Work in Corporations at:

Free Downloadable Ebooks at The Real Success Resource Center



Purchase Real Success Without a Real Job: The Career Book for People Too Smart to Work in Corporations by Ernie Zelinski at:


or

May 2, 2008

To Help Your Wonderful Mother Celebrate Mother's Day, Don't Buy Her any Mother's Day Gifts, Mother's Day Flowers, or Mother's Day Cards



Important Mother's Day Reminder #1 - Thank Your Mother a Lot While She Is Still Alive!



Regardless of their age, the large majority of mothers care for their children in a thousand little ways that their children tend to take for granted. Unfortunately, most of us don't realize how much our mothers mean to us until they are no longer around. We may thank them on Mother's Day with a card and some flowers and that is about all. Of course, there are many people who truly appreciate their mothers and express their gratitude for them.

Given that my mother passed away while I was in the middle of completing the new edition of this book, allow me to share how I never got to express my love and appreciation for her as much as I would have liked. On the first Sunday of February 2007 I was contemplating whether I should go to a musical performance at our local jazz club. I gave consideration to the fact that on the previous Sunday I had not visited my mother, which I had done virtually every Sunday for almost twenty years. Thus, I decided to skip the musical performance.

I picked up some items from a local supermarket deli and headed over to my mother's apartment. This particular Sunday my sister, Elaine, and her husband, Lorne, also showed up and we had an enjoyable dinner together. Later I noticed that my mother was wheezing after she climbed a flight of stairs. She also complained about how her legs had gotten really stiff lately.

Even so, I would later find out that my mother told others that she had a great day, because my sister, my brother-in-law, and I had visited her. What's more, earlier in the day, just as my mother was about to call my brother, Kenny, she received a call from him. The call was special to my mother because my brother lives outside the city and only visted her once or twice a year.

As it turned out, this was the last Sunday dinner that I enjoyed with my mother. You can imagine how fortunate I felt that I had skipped the musical performance. Two days later I called my mother to ask her how she was doing. She complained of severe headaches that wouldn't respond to Tylenol. Later in the evening my sister and her husband drove my mother to the hospital. The doctors decided to keep her for two or three days because of her low oxygen level but they didn't think it was anything serious.

On Wednesday afternoon when I visited my mother at the hospital, I was stunned to find out that the doctors had diagnosed her with acute leukemia. The head doctor indicated that she could live for several months if they gave her blood transfusions and chemo drugs along with morphine. Needless to say, I left the hospital in somewhat of a daze.

That evening I decided that I would visit my mother at least once every day until she passed away. I also decided to get a nice black book in which I would write down all the special things that I wanted to thank her for. I was also going to encourage other people to write in the black book all the things that they liked about my mother.

As fate would have it, the next day my mother took a turn for the worse. The doctor phoned early in the morning and indicated she had only a few days left with her likely losing mental capabilities in a day or two. Soon after I got to the hospital, I decided that I should bring my mother's best friend, Mary Leshchyshyn, to see my mother one last time while she still had her mental capabilities. After I brought Mary to the hospital, she and my mother were able to spend half an hour together while the rest of us went for coffee.

When we got back to my mother's hospital room, I noticed that my mother had gotten worse and was gasping for oxygen. At this point I felt that she might not last more than a day. So I immediately thanked my mother for two or three important things that she had done for me. She responded - as she struggled for oxygen - by thanking me specifically for having come over every Sunday. (At this point I truly realized how much my weekly visits meant to her.) I also told my mother that the reason that I had never married was that I had never met a wonderful woman like her.

Shortly after, my mother's best friend, Mary, stated that my mother looked really tired and that she should go home to let my mother rest. My mother was able to say a few more words to Mary including "Don't get what I got." Mary's last words to my mother were "See you later." I would find out soon after from my sister that my mother whispered, "Oh no, you won't." But Mary didn't hear these words.

Sadly, while I was driving Mary back to her apartment, my mother passed away. My sister, Elaine, and her husband, Lorne; my cousin, Jerry, and his wife, Lil; and the hospital chaplain, Blaine Allan, were there with her and said a prayer while she passed away. Surprisingly, my mother at eighty-five had her mental capabilities and even a great memory right until her last minutes, given that she was giving instructions to my sister about the funeral, including the dress she wanted to be wearing and how she wanted her head tilted just a bit in the coffin instead of straight up.

Later that morning, when my sister arrived, my mother told her, "I'm done." My sister responded, "What are you talking about?" My mother replied, "I lost the stone from my family ring. It's gone so that means that I am gone too." My mother was so sweet and so strong during her last hours. Even the hospital staff talked about the deep affection they had developed for her during her short stay in the hospital.

As hard as my mother's death was on me, there was something remarkably spiritual about it. There were also a few things for which I had to feel grateful. My mother did not have to suffer for a long time like so many people do in their later years. I was thankful that Elaine, Lorne, Jerry, Lil, and Blaine were there with her to say a prayer when she passed away. I also felt relieved that I had brought Mary to the hospital so that she and my mother got to spend half an hour together before my mother left us rather unexpectedly that day.

After I left the hospital that fateful afternoon, I felt blessed that I was able to see my mother her last day and thank her for at least two or three special things that she had done for me. But I was also terribly saddened that I did not get to give her a hundred more reasons why she had meant so much to me. So I wrote a letter to my mother which follows this photo of her in her twenties:



February 8, 2007

Dear Mom:

I am so saddened that you left us rather suddenly while knowing that in many ways it was the right thing for you to do. I am sorry that I was not there when you passed on but I know that you appreciate that I brought your best friend Mary to see you one last time and I know that Mary appreciated having the chance to see you one last time. Unfortunately, while I was driving Mary back to her home, you left us but Elaine, Lorne, Lil, Jerry, and Blaine were there with you.

I will miss you. I hope that we meet in Heaven. I know that from the way you treated me and the way you treated others - and how much they held you in great esteem and admiration - that you have an outstanding chance of entering Heaven - far greater than me, that's for sure. But I will remember the great things that people loved about you and try to instill as many of your great qualities in myself as I can from now on. Perhaps I will get into Heaven as easily as you.

Because you left rather suddenly, there are so many things that I wanted to thank you for but didn't get a chance. Here are just some of the things I wanted to thank you for:







    • Thank you for having stuck by my side so many times and gotten yourself in trouble with Dad when he thought I should be doing something else with my life.


    • Thank you for lending me the money to publish my first book although, as you said when I was paying you back, you thought you would never see the money again.


    • Thank you for making a prompt decision around eight years ago to sell your house and move into the St Andrew's Retirement Complex - I know that your living in the apartment complex rather than continuing living isolated in the house added several years to your life - and of course joy in other people's lives.


    • Thank you for still making the great cabbage rolls this last Christmas that you made all these years even though you had been quite ill just before the holidays.


    • Thank you for having taken care of your best friend Mary by buying groceries for her when she couldn't make it out on her own due to her low energy level.


    • Thank you for having had the ability to always be so pleasant with everyone that you met.


    • Thank you for your appreciation of other people - I can't recall your ever having said a bad word about anyone.


    I could go on forever about the things that I would like to thank you for, but I just want to wrap it up by saying I am somewhat mystified - but nevertheless proud of you - for being able to live to the age of eighty-five in generally good health and then make a fairly rapid exit from this planet without having to suffer like so many people do. Great work, Mom!

    But I am going to miss you a great deal. Not having the regular Sunday dinners as we have for so many years and not having someone special to phone every day or two are going to be hard on me.

    I promise to think of you as I live the rest of my life. I will give much thought every day about the types of things you would have wanted me to do and how you would have liked me to treat other people. I know that this will make me a much better person and I hope that I will have as many great people mourn my passing from this planet as will come to mourn yours.

    Thank you, Mom

    With all my love

    Ernie



I placed this letter under my mother's arm in the coffin when members of my close family and I visited the funeral home to pay our respects the day before the funeral. The next day, after I read a copy of the letter as the eulogy during the funeral service conducted by Father Don Bodnar, a good friend of mine commented that this is the type of letter we should all write to our mothers while they are still living.

To be sure, you should thank your mother a lot for all that she means to you while she is still alive - not only with letters but also with thoughtful comments every time you see her. Clearly, your mother deserves much more than a card, flowers, or candy once a year on Mother's Day. Why not send her a handwritten letter at least once a month? Start today because you never know when she may lose her life suddenly."

All that I am or ever hope to be," remarked Abraham Lincoln, "I owe to my angel Mother." George Washington declared, "I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education which I received from my mother." Jewish people have a proverb about mothers that is even more eloquent: "God could not be everywhere and therefore He made mothers."

Here are a few words from Washington Irving to remind us a little more about how important mothers are to us: "A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts."

I was fortunate that I saw my mother fifteen to twenty minutes before she passed away and was able to at least thank her for a few things. I am also blessed that I get to dedicate this book to her and will have her name live on at least in some small spiritual way due to me - and, of course, due to the great person that she was. You may not get these same opportunities. So again, thank your mother a lot while she is still alive - and not only on Mother's Day. Trust me - you will deeply regret it later if you don't.

NOTE: The above article is adapted from the chapter called Thank Your Mother a Lot While She Is Still Alive! in the book 101 Really Important Things You Already Know, But Keep Forgetting by Ernie Zelinski. The book is dedicated to Ernie's mother Violet Zelinski (Waselyna Gordychuk) who passed away while Ernie was writing the latest edition of the book.





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Read on about Mothers Day: and The True Spirit of Mother's Day