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The other day I stumbled upon a coupon from the past that had never been redeemed. The yellowed index card boasted the signs of an elementary school project, with novice pencil printing and amateur attempts at drawing boughs of holly…

wisdom coupon

I must have gifted my mom this coupon back in the day when clay ashtrays and Dixie Cups with pipe cleaner handles were in vogue. The coupon was good for five errands done cheerfully and willingly. My mom would have never redeemed this coupon; it’s simply not her style. Also, my brother and I were raised by a woman that taught us that helping out family was not an option; it was expected.

This was the reason my errand coupon was never cashed in. It never had to be.

I found this childhood gem in my parent’s basement, in a cardboard box that had the battle scars of one too many apartment moves from my past. The box was filled with letters and cards I had received from my mom over the years. Even though my address changed more times than I like to admit, the return address always remained the same. Often times it was embellished with my mom’s unique flair…

wisdom return1

Her words were always written, never typed, and the content was delivered on everything from goofy holiday cards to scraps of paper. There was even a period of time when all correspondence from mom was penned on “Last Will And Testament” stationary she had scored at a local auction…

wisdom last will

Sometimes her mailings would include personal effects that were comforting reminders from home. Things like a random prayer card reminding me that even “Fallen-Away Catholics” should still offer up prayer…

wisdom prayer card

A sign of Fall since the change of seasons no longer existed for me in Southern California …

wisdom flower


A photo of herself during a phase when she would buy fur coats at estate sales because they were cheaper than anything off-the-rack…

wisdom fur

And an article from The Kearney Hub reminding me that it’s okay to be single…

wisdom bachelor

Beyond the quirky inserts and random writing accoutrement, the words themselves were always the most important highlight of my trip to the mailbox. Her cards and letters were frequent and they always contained unconditional support whether she was writing to me about the weather back home or reminding me to keep following my dreams…

wisdom weather

I’m thankful that even in my vagabond existence I have managed to save and archive the words that sustained me through so much of my adulthood. Looking back on her words now, I am reminded that the advice she offered up so many years ago is indeed timeless.

Here is a bit of her wisdom…

wisdom words5

In regards to pursuing my dream of becoming a working actor her words were always encouraging:

Please keep your dreams going – you are going to make it!”

Move forward young man on your dream of acting – just do it! You will NEVER be content until you give it your all. Then with God and luck you will be on your way! It’s a tough dream – Keep your back straight and tall and go for it!”

wisdom words8

And in true mom fashion she had no patience for the shenanigans of Hollywood…

Did you watch the SAG Awards? I have a real problem with Robert Downey Jr. getting awards – Sorry but I do. I think you should get them because you are just as talented and CLEAN!”

wisdom words4

When she wrote to me about my acting career, her words often reminded me to keep on track…

You know I worry about you- safety, if you are happy, etc. As far as reaching your goals and making good reasonable decisions, I have the utmost confidence in you! You have always known what you wanted, whatever it was and you went for it.”

And to never trust anyone on the west coast…

I guess it’s true that people in the Midwest appreciate hard work, dependability, honesty and someone they can trust more so than the people of Southern California.”

wisdom words

I always valued her thoughts on family…

I know as a family we have changed but who doesn’t? At least we still have the basics: Always there for each other – good or bad – and we can still laugh. Look at all the people that can’t laugh at themselves or anything really. It’s the basics – what more can we ask out of each other?

And her rare bits of wisdom on love always made me think the right one was out there…

I pray you find someone – someday – that will care about you as much as I do. That’s it, then all will be good.”

Just keep your heart open and look for someone that makes your soul feel good.”

wisdom card2

Her letters often contained advice on growing up…

I wish I had answers for you on being an adult but as you know I have done this growing up thing by the seat of my pants – one day at a time. If everything stayed the same how simple life would be! But no one can stop change.”

Avoiding regret (inevitable as it is)…

That’s why all I ever wanted for you is to be content and not always wondering because before you know it, you are limited on what you can do – only because of finances, age, etc. I look back and see so many choices I maybe shouldn’t have made but tried to make the best of my choices.”

And gratitude…

My Dad was the kind of guy that thought money was power. Sure you can have a good time but all in all sometimes it brings along with it all the bad also; greed, arrogance and a host of problems. That’s why I really try everyday to see the things I have to be grateful for. If I was to die tomorrow the greatest happiness I have is my relationship with you and Jeff and it doesn’t get much better than that. Nothing else could top it – not all the money in the world.”

wisdom words6

My mom’s words regarding her own parenting were a reminder that this brief time on earth is a constant learning curve no matter your age or place in this world…

I don’t feel like I have been a very good mom to my adult sons – maybe because I didn’t have my parents around in my 20’s. I don’t think I know how to be a parent to adult children. I do keep trying.”

I never raised you to be safe and secure (and excuse me but BORING). I have always gone by the seat of my pants; headstrong. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Nothing is secure anymore – only your belief in yourself. That will never fail you.”

wisdom words2

And my favorite words from my mom were the ones that reminded me of her eccentric personality and zest for life. Words only a my mom can deliver properly…

I wanted to say that I will change my voice and tone on your voice mail – I really don’t mean to leave a guilt ridden message.”

I had a dream that I gave birth to an elephant (cute little guy) with the help of Charlene from ‘Designing Women’ – Wouldn’t a therapist have a field day with that dream!”

I’m thinking of becoming a monk – give me flip flops, a robe and a rosary and that’s it. Notice I didn’t say ‘nun’ as they work way too hard. So a monk is my goal – I’m tired of the everyday hassles.”

These are words to live by.

That’s the thing about a great mom and a good writer; her words never go out of style…

wisdom words7



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Scott Rager

Robert Scott Rager is a Nebraska native who returned home to start a boutique business called "County Seat Living". His personal goal for "County Seat" is to translate the lifestyle design he was creating in Los Angeles for the past twelve years and apply it to the sensibility of the Great Plains. Whether he's writing about decorating, homemade ice cream, floral creations, event planning or product design, he wants the personality and style of Nebraska to shine bright.

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