Things My Mother Said — In Memory of Donna Rae Zoller Bibeau

As my own children grow up (11, almost 12, and 14), I am conscious of the things that I bring to their lives, both good and bad — the little impressions of my father and quotes of my mother that have appeared to them “out of nowhere” yet have their roots in my own childhood. These quotes have colored my own views for the better and made (I hope) my little part of the world a better place. Here they are.

“Don’t sweat the small stuff” (She had kidney problems her whole life  and had to figure out what was important and what wasn’t).

“I don’t care if you grow up to be a garbage man, as long as you’re happy”

“If people want to see my house, they should come when I’m not home”.

“If you’ve been here once, you’re a guest. After that you’re a friend. Third time, you know where it is, help yourself”.

” I was in Florida in 1962 when a man came out of his house with a shotgun and said, ‘Do you like them ni—-s?. I told him I’d never met one and he went back in his house”. (It was probably true. In the town where she grew up, my grandfather had never met a Black person. In addition to that, for all the Black friends she had during her lifetime, she never saw one of them as an “n-word”.)

“Of course your father loves you. He puts a roof over your head.” (my father has grown to be so much more than that, but I understood that parents do what they can to support your dreams).

“Your sister — you should see her sing, She’s really talented.”

“Your brother’s a good man “.

“I’m already equal. I don’t need a law to tell me that”. (With no doubt about the first, we agreed to disagree on the second.)

“Nothing against people on welfare, some people really need it, like the Bradleys with six kids. I just can’t bring myself to do it. It labels you”

As a director if many nursing homes later in life, she would say, “It doesn’t matter if they’re “not all there”, that nursing home smells of urine and I simply won’t stand for that”.

“The Bible is still valuable because people haven’t changed much in all those years”,

But the thing my mother taught me best was never spoken. When we had parties during my college years, we would invite — and have at the house — Cho (her Korean best friend), Peter a gay restaurant owner who gave business advice, Luz — a Mexican friend from work, my friends and girlfriends, my grandfather, and the surfer family next door, whose nationality was “White”. That was life and that’s who was at my house. There was no question about it.




2 thoughts on “Things My Mother Said — In Memory of Donna Rae Zoller Bibeau

  1. Thanks John…..brings back things my mother gave me and all those crazy sayings I quote from my grandmother! I especially liked your mom’s take on the Bible….People haven’t changed all that much in all those years. Blessings Lisa

    • Lisa: Thank you. Mother’s Day is a time for reflection — especially for those of us who have lost our mothers. I was kind of wistful and the time seemed right. I bet that any mother worth her salt left their child with things like this.
      I’m glad yours were happy.



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