Three Things I Learned From My Mother

Posted on December 11, 2015 by: Dr. Ronald DeMars


Some of you may have heard about my mother, Zoe, before. Some of you may have even met her, as she was my office manager for several years (more on that later).

Today would have been her 101st birthday. She was born on December 13, 1914 (a Friday the 13th, and 12-13-14!) She was a very important person to me, and so today I am remembering her by sharing a little about who she was and some of the most important things she taught me, which have impacted who I am and the surgical practice I run today.

Zoe worked in a medical office, and while I was growing up I loved her stories of the treatments her doctors did, to the extent that by the time I was in 3rd grade I knew I would be a surgeon. In her last two decades of employment she worked for one or more Portland plastic surgeons, and I started my plastic surgery practice by joining one of her doctors. My mother became my office manager and stayed so until her retirement.

She was my role model for her work ethics, and as a parent, and we were lucky enough to have her be very involved with our children while they were growing up. They will all tell you the same story — she was a role model for them as well.

We all miss her, but we remember these important lessons from her:

Make Your Life Count by Helping Others

In just about everything she did, she made it a point to help others. It became a large part of my life philosophy, and my surgery philosophy. I love doing what I do because of the way it can help improve someone’s life and self-esteem.

Family is of Utmost Importance

Zoe, affectionately called “Baba” by her grandkids, always made taking care of family her top priority. One of my favorite stories is from my high school days: As a teenage boy, being able to drive a car to high school seemed so important to me that she always took the bus to work, miles away, so that I could drive a few blocks to school. That’s the kind of person she was. As my children were growing up, Baba was a daily part of their lives, being involved in their education, extracurricular activity, and everything else. She was always there for everyone.

Be Quick to Listen and Slow to Speak

Zoe always listened to others more than she spoke of herself, and was always gentle in letting you know if you were wrong. Sometimes today it seems that we do the reverse. Zoe’s is is a great example of how to treat others.

Though she is missed, it is wonderful to look back on her memory and the impact she has had on me and our family.