My mother Helen Berls has friends all over the world. Maybe you’ve met someone like her. You’re on a cruise, or visiting somewhere exotic on a tour, or standing in line, or sharing a table for dinner, and you find yourself in easy conversation with someone who’s interested in you and tells funny stories and makes you feel warm and comfortable right away. By the end of a few minutes, you feel like you’ve made a new friend and you might have exchanged addresses so you can stay in touch. My mom is like that.

The stories, ah, the stories she can tell! I’m not sure she realizes how much fun it is to talk to her and hear stories about the people she loves, the places she’s been, or just descriptions of day to day routine. My mom has a distinctive storytelling voice that comes through in the smallest of anecdotes. After we visited a couple of weeks ago, Nate looked a little confused when he told us about listening to Grandma tell a story. “It was just a story about a chipmunk on a fence, but, well, I really wanted to know what happened next!” We knew what he meant.

She’ll turn 84 this year, but you wouldn’t have guessed it if you saw her hiking with us in Mount San Jacinto State Park last month, six thousand feet above Palm Springs. She is vibrant and alive and radiates good will.

In fact, the whole family has something remarkable going, and my mom deserves all the credit. When everyone was together recently, it seemed natural to have my sister and brother-in-law and their two girls, along with my glorious wife and Andrew and Nate, all together chatting happily with my mom and dad, with everyone happy and healthy and well-adjusted. I have to remember not to take that for granted! Our parents gave us good genes and quietly showed us by example how to create stable marriages and raise happy children. We got it all, heredity and environment, nature and nurture – it just doesn’t get any better!

All my best to all the moms out there, and a very special hug to my mom. Happy Mother’s Day!


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