My Mother’s Hand…

My mother was diagnosed with bone cancer in late 2005.  She made the decision that she would only take treatment if the odds were in her favor for survival by 65%.  After the new year, 2006, she was told her chances were only 40%.   The reality of what this meant did not hit me then.  In my mind, all that mattered was that I would care for her.  Less than a week later, my husband and I took her out for Chinese food.  We sat down at the table and ordered our food.   When dinner was at our table and we were about to eat, I moved to lay my hand on the table, but instead I had rested my hand on my mothers.  I immediately pulled my hand away and apologized.  She proceeded to eat her food, while I with my head down, glancing repeatedly at her hand as I moved my food around with my fork.

In that moment that my hand was on my mother’s, I had felt the softness of her hands and now that I was seeing her hand as though for the very first time, I realized how beautiful they were.   Elegant, with long fingers, the hands of a woman and that is when it hit me.  For the very first time in my life I looked at my mother and saw another woman.  A woman just like me.  A woman who had experienced love and loss, hopes and disappointments.  One with thoughts and passion of her own, a woman with a life of her own.  She was not just my mother, she was another woman and it was then that it hit me that she was dying.  I didn’t want to cry in front of her.  I knew it was important for her to know I would be strong for her, and so I got up from the table, made some excuse and went back to the car.  I sat and I cried.  I cried for her yes, but I also cried for myself.  I cried not only that I would lose her, but that I had never taken the chance to know her as a woman.  To know her as a person, an individual, human just like me.

In the three months that followed, until her passing, my mother and I said more to each other than we ever had.  I don’t mean that we spoke more.  There were less words, more said, if you understand.

My mother was a fiercely beautiful woman, from the inside out.  She felt and expressed everything intensely.  She fought the hard battle of a woman with a difficult life and she did it with integrity.  She gave more of herself than most people have to start with, she did it without anything in return.  She was sharp and complicated.  She was a wife, a mother, a sister, an aunt, a grandmother, a friend, but before anything else, she was a woman with a life force of her own.  She was her own.

My mother passed on nine years ago today.  In the wee hours of this morning I wake to look in the mirror.  I look to see how much of her I can see in myself.  Do I measure up to who she would want me to be?

I remember as a teenager, she and I, we would argue.  She would tell me,

“What you do, what you wear, how you speak, it is a reflection of me!”

I would tell her in an exasperated teen voice, “Ma, I don’t care what people think of me.”

She would say, “What you present to the world, it makes a difference.”

If my mother were here today, I wonder how that conversation would go.  I know I don’t feel much different then I did back then.  Would she?  I hope so.  I hope she would see that the people that judge don’t matter.  What is will always be more important than what appears to be.

When she said I was a reflection of her, she was right.  The woman that I am, the strength and the fortitude, the values and beliefs.  The courage, honor and integrity.  What I am willing to give of myself to another human being.  That is the reflection of my mother that I want to be.

                                One rose, in return for all the flowers she gave to me…


63 thoughts on “My Mother’s Hand…

  1. Reading this, I not only wonder about the mystery of the woman who is my Mom, but I also wonder how many of the people around us do we see for who they really are, for the true story their lives tell, apart from our own preconceptions and pre judgements, our own biases and self centered ness. Food for thought.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This is very powerful and very moving. It’s so easy to reduce people, even and maybe especially those we have known for most or all of our lives, to just one role or two that we depend on most. A therapist once told me that we should “carry our parents in our hearts” with affection as we would for a child. At the time I thought her advice a little strange, but reading this I think it means to see our parents as whole people, people who experienced life at all ages just as we have. And, I suppose (I suppose because I’m lucky enough to still have both my parents’ in my life) when our parents pass away, to “carry them in our hearts” becomes all the more important to do, mindful of all who they were.

    I may have to give my mom a call today. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your very thoughtful comment. I do hope you call your mom! I checked out your blog and I just want to say, I love acronyms. I am not very good at them, but I love them. That isn’t a hint or anything. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • 🙂 I know. I just like the sound of “acrostic” better than “acronymic” or “acronymous.” I think we poets often end up banging our heads against the wall of how words sound in an attempt to be both meaningful and sonorous. I’ll have to think of something better at some point.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: MOTHER | Blind Willow Sleeping

  4. This is such a bittersweet post. Thank you for sharing your story. I honestly didn’t understand my own mother until I became a mom myself. By then, it was too late, she had been gone for years. I’d give anything to have had those meaningful conversations with her. Lovely, heartfelt writing. ☺ Van

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What we don’t see as children (and as parents) is that we are two generations trying to see the world through each other’s eyes (maybe …). Yet there always comes the realization that this person is so much a part of us, and we need to understand as much as possible, often in less time than we ever thought possible .. Blessings for her eternal rest, and for your understanding and care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the comment. I went over to look, but I think it would take some time to find your post about your mother’s passing. I also should not assume it is actually on your blog. If it is and you wouldn’t mind, I would love to read it. If you don’t mind leaving the link?


  6. I like to remember something my grandmothers told me: we are the prayers of our Parents, an of many generations of Ancestors. I often find myself hoping that my life, at least some of the time, answers their prayers. thank you for this deeply touching post.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This pulled at me. I am so sorry for your loss. I also lost my mom from cancer in 2005. Whenever I was feeling down and alone, I use to say to myself (well my mother loves me) lol. Somehow in that instant, the world felt like a better place. I still have a hard time posting any poetry about it. Sending safe hugs~

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Loosing our parents is the worst that can happen to us. It inflicts such an everlasting pain on all of us. The deepness of your thoughts go deep into my heart, and I got so emotional reading your post.
    Blessings for your mother.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The loss of family and friends to that stuff is painful to endure. Your examination and sharing help we readers understand the strength and gentle compassion while dealing with a relentless stalker that mark the suffers of this as heroic. It’s an unhappy disease.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your comment. Your words “strength and gentle compassion”, bring to mind the people who dedicate their lives to working with the terminally ill. There are not enough words to express what they give of themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. A beautiful post, thank you for sharing it.

    I phoned my mother every Sunday for 35 years. There was the occasional “missed call” due to scheduling on one end or the other but always made up. We chatted for at least an hour each time. I called her my “rumor control officer” and she actually liked the term. Two years ago the impossible occurred, she was no longer there. She contracted C-Diff during a brief hospital stay and her 94 year old body was too frail to fight it. My Sunday afternoons will always have a “hole” in them.

    “Each man’s death diminishes me,
    For I am involved in mankind.
    Therefore, send not to know
    For whom the bell tolls.
    It tolls for thee.”
    John Donne.


  11. What a beautiful post! I, too, lost my mother to cancer. One of the things we did towards ‘the end’ was look at photos of her when she was younger. (She always kept them in a certain drawer and only took them out if I asked to see them. I’m sure my brothers never asked..) I know she’d told me things about the photos before – but I knew this would be the last time, so I wrote down what she said. What a treasure!! In fact, we had a good many of the photos at her wake, complete with her comments such as, “This coat was green. I always just loved that coat” or ‘That’s Yvonne and I when we visited so-and-so up in Quebec. We always had such a great time’. Sure, those comments weren’t out-of-the-ordinary but her words gave meaning to each photo. Again – thanks for a lovely post!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • True, the comments may not be out of the ordinary, but to have her words now to go with her photos is quite out of the ordinary. I think it is wonderful that you thought to write them down, as well as share them. I am assuming that a good many of the photos were black and whites, so it is nice to know the coat was green, isn’t it. Thank you for sharing this.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re exactly right – the photos are black and white. And it was so cute to see my mother’s expression when we viewed the photo of that coat – she must’ve really loved it! Plus it brought back memories of the days before she was a mother, when she actually had time to do her nails !! Thanks for you sweet comment!

        Liked by 1 person

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