My mother, Mary-Frances Bache (89 years of age) lives with us, and I confess I continue to learn from her every single day. I don’t know if there is a single piece of advice I could distill from her because I’ve learned so much from her throughout my life. I will only say that she is a woman who was born in difficult circumstances with a significant disability, and her life was not expected to be much. She saw things differently, however. She became the first person in her family to attend college, eventually moving far away from her small Tennessee hometown to New York City where she met my father.
My father joined the US Foreign Service and they spent decades serving all over the Caribbean, Far East, and Africa. During those years she did many things along with raising my brother and me and entertaining constantly in our home as the wife of a diplomat. One of those things was hosting her own TV show in the north of Nigeria for two years. But there are many more. Through it all, she has remained one of the most deeply generous, empathetic, kind, and strong human beings I have ever known.
What I’ve learned from her life is that you must never be afraid, never simply accept that the world is what others around you say it is, and learn to live your life according to what your internal compass dictates. There are truly amazing people and experiences around every single corner if you are just willing to venture into those new places.
—Joanna Bache Tobin, Ph.D.
President, Board of Education of Anne Arundel County
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