There are different periods of our lives that serve as a wake-up call or teach us serious lessons. My mom's sudden passing was one of those for me. Here are some observations I took away from my mom's funeral as well as this whole experience.
Life is not a dress rehearsal. Don't put off what you can do today till tomorrow, as you never know how many tomorrows you really have.
I'm a big believer in creating magic moments for others, and I'm so glad I flew up to New York just two weeks ago to surprise my Mom on her 70th birthday. The look on her face was priceless.
- How will you be remembered?
- What is your legacy?
- How many true friends do you really have?
- Do you have fair-weather friends or friends who will "have your back" no matter what?
Some friends are there when it is convenient, but how about times when it isn't convenient?
Are you only nice to people who can help you or give you something, or are you nice to people all the time because that is the right thing to do?
As my friend Kimber Lim says, "The life you lead and the footprint you leave are equally important as the success you achieve."
You get more from what you give, then from what you receive.
My friend Bob Beaudine talks a lot about friendship. He says if you have three true friends you have a 96 percent chance of living a satisfying and fulfilling life. Most people don't even have one good friend at work.
My mom had lots of friends, and was universally loved.
I am finishing up my book on how to get whatever you want in life through the power of connections and relationships, and right beneath my nose I had my mom who was like the BABE RUTH of building and maintaining friendships. I knew she was a great mom, but I didn't realize how many people she touched and impacted. She was loved by so many.
She was a true friend. A friend who had no agenda. She was there in good times and bad.
You didn't have to be a very important person in the world for my mom to be your friend. Her value and respect of all people were built from love.
- She remembered your birthday and anniversary
- She remembered your kids birthdays
- She remembered important events in your life
- She took the time to write lots of personal letters (lost art these days).
If you were her friend she was "ALL IN" as my friend Alex Mandossian likes to say.
She appreciated the simple things in life. Walmart was her favorite store, even though she could afford to shop anywhere. After her trips she would take I would ask her about what they did and she would be so excited to tell me about the Walmart she shopped at.
My mom put love and happiness into the universe, and received love and happiness back.
For many reasons Feb. 26 will be a day I always remember; several hundred people attended my mom's funeral. People flew in from all over the country to pay their respects. The ceremony was very touching and heartfelt. Mom's service was so packed they had people standing outside, and it was cold -- probably 30 degrees.
Neighbors that Mom had known for 45+ years come by the house. It dawned on me I barely know my neighbors at my homes in L.A. and Atlanta. I am going to have step up in that department.
The diversity of people at Mom's funeral struck me, as well as how far so many of them traveled to get there. The former superintendent of the school system flew all the way back from Florida, as did the athletic director and head football coach of our high school, my kindergarten teacher (who I didn't event remember), people from Mom's sorority that she had known for 30 years, even the former N.Y. Knicks trainer.
Mom attended almost every sporting event my siblings and I ever played in. Since my sister is the tennis coach of the boys' and girls' high school tennis teams, and my mom barely missed a match over the past decade, many of the former players flew back in from around the country.
My mom took the time to stay connected with her family: she would speak several times a week to her brother in Ohio. And she talked to my sister Jennifer up to 10 times a day. (If someone was calling me 10 times a day, I would be sending them a bill -- LOL.) To Jennifer, if you are reading this, I am just kidding; you can call me as many times as you want!
My friend Brendon Burchard has three questions from his book Life's Golden Ticket.
- Did I live?
- Did I love?
- Did I matter?
Well my mom, Marlene Benet, did all three in a very big way.
If you haven't already done so, pick up the phone and call your mom or dad or someone you care about and tell them you love them.
I love you, Mom.