Do you have that one person in your life who is your greatest champion? I certainly hope so.
For me it was my mom. I said goodbye to her seven years ago on Easter Sunday. It was a beautiful spring day in North Carolina. The sun was streaming in and the flowers were all abloom.
Cancer. Something that struck her and slunk off. It returned as cancer can do.
A curse that steals. A gift of time. Bittersweet in its taking and giving.
To watch a vibrant, passionate force that once blazed a path with sunshine and laughter, fade away. To care for a failing loved one in ways you never thought you could. And to do it with love. Carrying them on their journey. As they once carried you.
To let go of the barriers that rose high between you and them. It no longer matters. Resentments and anger stripped away. Peace, acceptance, and grace left behind. Blessed to have shared in this wondrous life’s exploration.
To watch them suffer. To pray for them to go. And in their suffering, you’re eased into saying goodbye as you leave them behind.
To listen as a heartbeat grows slower. To touch a hand that can no longer grasp. To close your eyes and listen to breaths grow fainter, like slow waves rolling to shore. A shore you cannot see. Moving towards another place. Closer to heaven.
Cancer. A thief unseen. It gives and takes. You must greedily take from all it gives. Its everlasting gift is to give you the longest goodbye. And then it takes for the last time.
And in that final taking I was able to speak my last words to you. “Mom, you loved me unconditionally. You gave me strength and security. And then you did the hardest thing of all; you let me go and set me free. Every day I try to be a mother like the mom you were to me.”
That Easter Sunday was the last time I ever saw her. Cancer took her the next day.
But, since her death I realize I carry her with me and much of my success can be attributed to her. In my grief I finally got down to writing my book, and finished not one, but two and am now writing a sixth.
But it was my Mom’s many “isms” drilled into me growing up that gave me that foundation to make my dream come true today. And I know she would be as proud of me as ever and I realize I must be proud of myself for her.
She taught me many things growing up that I carry on.
Here are things my mom taught me that translate into my writing life:
The early bird catches the worm = set the alarm early and get up and write.
Always make your bed first thing = don’t procrastinate, get to it!
Never go out of the house with wrinkled clothes = shower and dress like you are going to a real job, Miss Writer.
Polish your shoes = you can never edit enough, it makes your work “shine”.
Stand up straight = be confident about your writing when you talk about it.
Place your napkin on your lap = keep an organized desk.
Clean your plate = don’t give up, eventually you will buy ambien finish that scene, that chapter, that book.
Polish the silver = make your words pretty. Get rid of those clichés and make it your own voice.
Haste makes waste = don’t rush through your masterpiece. Some parts take longer and more work.
Mind over matter = I CAN do this. Me. Yes, I can!
Complaining is a waste of time = if this writing thing wasn’t hard everyone would be doing it. Now get back to work.
Time to move on = something not working? Move on to another scene or project for a while.
You are #1 = Be kind to yourself first before others. Don’t be so hard on yourself but don’t give up. Be your own champion.
Eat your veggies = get out that grammar book and make those words ‘right’. It’s not fun but necessary.
And yes, you must vacuum under the bed = at some point you’ll have to clean out the dirt and weed out all the junk in your writing to improve it.
And my favorite saying was the one she would call out early in the morning, even on weekends, “Up and at em’!” For years as a kid I would groan and wonder “Just WHO is this Adam?” But it became my standard greeting for her later in life as I knew I had to call her early in the morning before she was “out and about” for the day.
Are you up and at em’ today doing what you love with the people you love?
My mom also taught me that we learn from the hard things. She encouraged me to take a job out of state once I graduated college so I could experience life, even though she would miss me. She was always clipping articles to send me for encouragement after I moved away. I laminated this one years ago. It has followed every move to a new house. It’s on the fridge now with a handwritten note from her, “In case you missed this one! Love, Mom.”
So you don’t miss it, here it is, in case you need encouragement on this Easter Sunday:
AFTER AWHILE by Veronica A. Shoffstall
After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, Not the grief of a child
And you learn to build all your roads on today,
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After awhile you learn that even sunshine
Burns if you get too much
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers
And you learn that you really can endure…
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth,
and you learn and learn…
With every good bye you learn.
I feel like these words are what my Mom would tell me today when I feel sad about missing her… “With every goodbye you learn.”
Now go – plant your own garden and decorate it with your own voice.
Have a blessed Easter.
Sia McKye says
Life doesn’t come with guarantees or fairness. I’m glad she taught you that. But victory does go to those who celebrate life and grab it with both hands and LIVE it to the full. Never give up and never hold back. Sounds like she appreciated and savored life and taught you the same.
Proud of you? Of course she was and is.
There are many times I open my mouth and out jumps my mom, lol! I still have her, for which I’m deeply grateful. She is still vibrant and strong a few months shy of 80. She’s been one of my strongest supports through my battle with cancer. She reminds me I’m strong, I’m a fighter. I can win. And, I am.
Thanks for sharing your mom with us!
Sia McKye Over Coffee
Donna Galanti says
Sia, what a beautiful note! Thank you for sharing. May you have many more precious years with your vibrant mother. How wonderful she has been a strong support to you during your challenging times.
Larry Dane Brimner says
Such a warm remembrance, and I loved the way you applied your mother’s advice to your writing life. Always make your bed first thing was one of my mom’s piece of advice because, she said, it brings order to your life. I always think of that and her each morning when I make my bed.
Donna Galanti says
Thanks for the lovely comment Larry! And your mom was right too! Funny, as my mom drilled into me about making my bed to my complete annoyance – and guess what the first thing I do is every morning? Make my bed of course! It does bring order to the room, and life. 🙂