It’s been over 46 years since my mother slipped from this life into the next.
I was just 9 years old when she died, and her death disoriented me in ways big and small. In a very practical way, her passing marked the abrupt end of my childhood. Already reeling from the abandonment of my father at 5, it came at the worst possible time, though it’s never a good time for a child to lose a parent.
The last day I saw her was on a Saturday morning, but only after my siblings snuck me into the hospital. At the time, children under 16 weren’t allowed to visit patients. There she lay in a bed, tubes and wires everywhere, noticeably thinner but still smiling when she saw me.
Although I wasn’t aware of the details surrounding her condition, she was dying of cancer and only had a few days left to live.
I think of my mother quite often, especially on the verge of Mother’s Day. When I close my eyes I can still see her bright and cheery face. But, and it pains me to say this, I can no longer hear the sound of her voice in my head. It’s been too many years.
No scratchy recordings, no home movies. Just a few family snapshots in a box, all now frozen in time.
Thankfully, I also have some wonderful memories, of days when she was beautiful and fun-loving, when she made me feel like I was the most important person in the world.
Nobody can take those memories away from me. I treasure each and every one of them.
My mom was spontaneous and quick-witted. Her greatest pleasure was making other people laugh. She worked hard, primarily as a waitress, always on her feet, working long hours to provide for her five children.
So although I can’t recall the sound of her voice, I can recall some of things she said to me – things that have stayed with me and shaped the man I have become.
Here they are:
- “It will be okay” – My mother was an optimist, always choosing to see the glass half-full. Whenever I expressed worry or concern, she would assure me. Even when she was dying, she attempted to put me at ease by telling me things would somehow work out.
- “Where’s your smile?” – Despite a broken marriage and few resources, my mom had a happy demeanor, and she encouraged her kids to count their blessings and see opportunities, not just the problems.
- “It’s tough being the youngest child.” – Empathetic at her core, Jan Daly regularly tried to put herself in my shoes. She saw me struggling with not being able to join my older siblings for many activities. She made sure that I knew that she knew what I was experiencing.
- “I love you!” My mom expressed her love for me countless times, in the morning, at bedtime, and everywhere in between. I never tired of that reminder.
What about you? What are some of the things you remember your mother telling you? Let’s fill the comments section with some heartfelt reminiscing. Some of you are like me and your mom is no longer alive. I am sorry and know that your emotions may be tender this time of year. Many others of you will talk with your mom this weekend. I would encourage you to treasure that conversation. Please don’t take it for granted.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! Mothers are a gift, and may the Lord bless each one.
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