Journal readers give insight on Mom's best advice - Albuquerque Journal

Journal readers give insight on Mom’s best advice

Illustration by Cathryn Cunningham/Albuquerque Journal

There is no monolithic descriptor for mother.

They come from different backgrounds. Some stay at home. Some work. Some are the head of their families, while others prefer to take a more subdued role. Some gave birth, while others adopted or inherited their children. Whatever their story, for many, their mothers are a source of wisdom, imparting knowledge that has helped them navigate the world.

bright spotToday America celebrates mothers and the Journal is sharing the best advice New Mexicans received from their moms




Zahra Marwan, 32, and Hayat Ani, 71

Zahra Marwan said the best advice her mom ever gave her was to go to college and avoid placing too much importance on those who don’t respect themselves. Both these things, she said, have provided the drive and motivation in life to succeed.

Zahra Marwan, right, enjoys time with her mother, Hayat Ani, in Kuwait in 2019. (Courtesy of Zahra Marwan)

Marwan’s grandparents, who lived in Kuwait, were illiterate. Her uncles went on to become doctors and other medical professionals but her mother, Hayat Ani, and her aunts were not encouraged to pursue an education. Her mom, who still lives in Kuwait, didn’t let that stop her. She went to a technical school after high school and took Marwan’s grandmother to night school so she could learn to read.

“My dad dropped out of high school to work, and she also insisted he go back to school,” she said. “She thought the most important thing I could do is become educated.”

Marwan is now a successful illustrator and has won several awards for her work.

Pat Di Vasto, 66, and Nicoletta Di Vasto

Pat Di Vasto, an assistant principal at Rio Rancho High School, grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and lost her mother, Nicoletta, the day she turned 15. Her mother’s biggest dream, she said, was that her children graduate from college.

Pat Di Vasto, an longtime administrator in the Rio Rancho Public Schools district, was selected as a Woman of Influence last year. (Courtesy of Pat Di Vasto)

“My mom made my dad promise, right before she died,” she said. “That all three of her children would graduate from college.”

Nicoletta Di Vasto had to drop out of high school during the Great Depression to help her parents and siblings. She was only 48 when she died of breast cancer. All three of her children would earn college degrees and go on to have careers.

Nicoletta Di Vasto on her wedding day. (Courtesy of Pat Di Vasto)

“She always stressed the value of a good education, especially for women,” she said. “My mom saw it as an opportunity not to financially depend on a man, even in the ’60s. I often wonder what she would think if she knew that not only did I become a math teacher, but furthered my education to become a principal.”



Danielle Bridges, 33, and Bertha Bridges, 66

Danielle Bridges is a local makeup artist who said while growing up she didn’t always want to hear what her mother had to say. But it was her mother, she said, that helped Danielle discover who she is.

“The biggest advice she ever gave me was to just be yourself and don’t mimic other people,” Bridges said. “Being an African American and trying to find my identity, this was so important.”

Danielle Bridges as a child with her mother Bertha Bridges. (Courtesy of Danielle Bridges)

Bertha Bridges was involved in local theater and was even a DJ for a little while.

As Danielle Bridges had gotten older, she’s learned to appreciate her mother.

“I really didn’t get along with my mom when I was younger,” she said. “Now we seem to be becoming the same person. I have so much respect for her.”


Lisa Emery, 40, and Gloria Vigil, 69

Lisa Emery has reached several milestones in her life. She married and had a child, bought a home and has built a successful career in health care as an admissions director at Lovelace Westside Hospital. Through it all she has always remembered something her mom Gloria Vigil said to her. Vigil was a housewife who raised Emery and her two sisters.

Lisa Emery poses with her mother, Gloria Vigil, who has helped her navigate life. (Courtesy of Lisa Emery)

Emery was a teenager, and like many teenagers, thought she knew it all. She made some new friends and her mom was not thrilled.

“She knew this new crowd I wanted to hang out with was up to no good and that’s when she told me ‘Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.’ ”

Her mom was right. Emery now takes those words to heart.

“I’ve always referred back to her saying this when I choose who to surround myself with and to this day I’m selective on who I share my time with.”



David Carl, 30, and Gail Tanner, 55

David Carl’s mom, Gail Tanner, raised him and his two siblings on her own. The family, he said, struggled for money, but his mom, a school teacher, never buckled under the pressure. He said she never let anything get in her way.

David Carl, left, said his mother, Gail Turner, taught him how to face adversity. The two coincidentally were at the same women’s march, he as a reporter and she as a participant, even though they lived in separate states. (Courtesy David Carl)

“There’s this one thing that sticks with me,” he said. “She would say ‘Life is tough. Wear a helmet.’ ”

It was her way, he said, of telling him to stop whining and instead accept that life isn’t fair and look for solutions to overcome whatever obstacles came their way.

Carl, is a former television reporter, spokesman for a local school district and currently the director of communication and fan experience for New Mexico United.

“She taught me I have to fight through it,” he said. “It taught me how to persevere.”

Ben Emerson, 50, and Terri Corbin, 72

Ben Emerson, who owns Conjure Hair Salon with his wife, Katie, said his mom, Terri Corbin, is quite the character. A belly dance instructor and artist, Corbin has never fretted too much over what other people think.

“Her advice was the audience is very forgiving,” he said. “That can translate to real life. When she told that to me, it was about a performance, but later it became more of a mantra – cut yourself some slack. Don’t get bunched up about things.”

Ben Emerson reenacts a photo with his mother, Terri Corbin. He says she has always been a free spirit who helped him embrace himself. (Courtesy Ben Emerson)

He also remembers the time they stopped at a store before a belly dance performance and his mom was already in full costume.

“I said ‘You aren’t going to wear that in the store, are you?’ ” he said. “She said ‘You can wear a costume anytime you want.’ ”

Emerson said these two things emboldened him to completely embrace who he was and to be whatever he wanted to be.

“That’s probably why I have tattoos all over my face,” he said. “She gave me that confidence.”

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

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