Actor, artist, philanthropist: My mother's selfless love with me at the holidays and always

The holidays are my favorite time of year. As my home fills with the joy and laughter of my six children and four grandchildren, I’m reminded of how lucky I am to have the most wonderful job in the world – being a mother and grandmother.

It’s the single most important thing I’ve done with my life, and I know just how important the job is because I am constantly reminded of what an influence my own mother was in my life.

My mother Mieke survived three and a half horrific years in a Japanese concentration camp during World War II. During that time, she focused all of her energy on caring for fellow prisoners who were far worse off than she was.

When I think of my mother, I think of the selfless love she had not only for my family, but for complete strangers as well. She’s with me every day as I challenge myself to live my life in the same way.

I am so blessed to have a wonderful family and career that I love, and I see my mother in all of those things. I see her every day in the faces of my children and grandchildren.  I am reminded of her each time a single white feather floats through the air – whether on good days or bad days – and I have to smile knowing that she is always with me.

Her love is reflected in my work as an actor, artist and philanthropist. Without her example, I wouldn’t be who I am today and while I miss her endlessly during the holidays, I know that if I live my life the way she did, I will make the same impact on my family and that is truly a gift.