27 Secrets My Mother Taught Me

My mother, Margaret Davenport Mixson, passed away in May 2007. She was a wonderful lady, and a great teacher. Mom preferred to be called ‘Mother’ so I’ll honor her wishes here.

Mother, I understand now, many of the things you taught me then. Every day I live, you become wiser, and your lessons resonate truer.

Mother never took Calculus or Macroeconomics, yet she was one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. She was a passionate reader, and knowledgeable of most subjects. When she stopped reading, months before her death, we knew her time on earth was coming to an end.

Mother studied people. She understood people. And her advice was usually right, even though I didn’t always follow it.

During her funeral, I shared the following:

27 Secrets My Mother Taught Me About Life

01. Life is not fair!
The older I get the more real this becomes. You can make yourself [and everyone around you] miserable without removing this burden from your life. Fact is, it’s NOT.

02. Blood is thicker than water.
Mother use to tell me, “Son, friends and girlfriends will come and go. But know this: your Father and I will ALWAYS have your best interest at heart, and we will NEVER knowingly mislead you.” They never did.

03. Don’t ask for someone’s opinion, unless you’re willing to follow their advice.
I’m still working on this one with my wife. She doesn’t understand how it makes me feel, when she asks which dress I like better, then chooses the other one.

04. We all do things we don’t want to do.
A concept I remind my kids of often.

05. People will ‘do to you’, what you let then ‘do to you’.
Set boundaries early, and stick to them.

06. If you want to know what your children do at school, you’d better be there to listen to them right after school.
Thanks Mother, for listening to all my thrilling teenage stories of he-said-she-said when I got home. You made me believe they were interesting.

07. Know where your kids are and what they are doing by making your house the ‘cool place’ to hangout.
Thinking back, I’m sure you would have enjoyed a quiet, calm house. But instead, you welcomed my friends, and never complained.

08. People love to talk about their passions.
If you can find a subject they’re passionate about, you won’t have to do much of the talking… and you might learn something.

09. Kids need all the encouragement they can get.
Mother, I miss your words of encouragement every day of my life.

10. Adults also need all the encouragement they can get.
So true.

11. When conversation gets difficult say, “That’s interesting.”
Problem is, any time my family says this to me, I know they’re struggling for words.

12. Education… Education… Education!
I know it was important to you that your children attend college, because you never had the opportunity. Even though I’ve seen first-hand that a college degree isn’t a good indicator of intelligence, I’ve also seen that a it makes life easier. Thank you for teaching me this, and for getting me through college without student loans. You never once complained about the cost, even when I moved into an apartment by myself after a bad roommate experience.

13. Speaking with proper English is important.
I can’t say I enjoyed all the corrections, but I’m glad you insisted that I spoke correctly.

14. Don’t chew gum when speaking in public.
You’re right. You can’t hide it (or chew gracefully)… no matter how hard you try. Your pet peeve is now mine.

15. Winners surround themselves with winners.
I see it with my children. You ARE influenced by your peers.

16. Faith, love, respect, integrity, honesty… they are all important.
So true.

17. If you’re going to merely sign the card, don’t even bother.
Instead, you wanted a handwritten note from our heart. Now, I feel the same way.

18. God will give us no more than we can handle.
Thank goodness.

19. Read… read… read!
Reading was your passion. If I had a dollar for every article you clipped and sent me, I could retire tomorrow.

20. If in doubt dress up.
If you’re not sure, it’s better to be over-dressed for an event, than under-dressed. So true. This has saved me lots of embarrassment.

21. Every child of mine will know proper etiquette.
Even though I’ve never eaten at the White House, I’m ready when the call comes.

22. Manners DO matter.

23. Respect your elders.

24. Call people by name.
There’s nothing so simple that’s more magical.

25. Never stop learning.
I can’t help myself.

26. “Don’t throw that away, we might use it someday.”
Mother was frugal. She insisted we wash plastic forks and cups. Yet, she would give the shirt off her back to a stranger.

27. “Hold the mustard, please.”
Mother hated the taste of mustard. Yet another trait I picked up.

Bonus: Be careful what you say in public places.
You never know who knows you, even though you don’t know them. How did my parents know I was into trouble, BEFORE I got home?


Mother, I share your wisdom with my children every single day… so they can someday pass it on to their children.

We miss you!