What a Lady

I am taking a little personal side trip; a detour of sorts.  Today’s post will be short, simple and hopefully more sweet than sad, but some tissues may be needed.  14 years ago today my mom left this world after a short but fierce battle with cancer.  My brother came across this photo of her not too long ago and sent it to me; I was so glad and couldn’t believe that in all the years, I had never seen this particular image of my mother. I wish I knew how old she was here, but I am guessing mid-to-late 30’s.  Not too long before, but definitely before she would become my mama. Isn’t she stunning?

Bernice is/was her name; and wow, what a truly spectacular lady! I am biased, obviously, but ask anyone who knew her and you would get the same response.  Wise beyond her era; ever insightful; strong and gentle. Patient.Prayerful. Powerful.  The original listener. She was my biggest fan and that job is difficult to fill; truly unconditional love is hard to come by.  About three years after her passing, I had the opportunity to spend a few days alone in a quiet, beautiful location. Prior to that, I had found this book, or rather I think it  found me. It practically jumped off the shelf into my hand the day I bought it, but it took me three+ years before I would feel ready to crack the cover.

So, I spent three days among the redwoods, just me and this book.  What I loved about it most was the way the author Hope Edelman approached the issue of mother loss; she “explores the myriad ways that losing a mother can affect almost every aspect and passage of a woman’s life.”  Having experienced the loss of her own mother at a young age, she found that not much had been written about this and felt there was a void in the literature that needed to be filled. She focused her compassionate work on the examination of the stages of a woman’s life at all the most critical junctures; infancy, childhood, teens, young adult, early 30s’s, and so on.  She researched the life stage developmental tasks being mastered along that continuum and then examined the impact of the loss of the mother at those crossroads, and the resulting impact of the loss as the girl/woman progresses through life. To do this, she interviewed hundreds of women whose stories literally grace the pages.

Those three days alone were transformative; I was {too} young to lose her; and  found myself on the pages in a way I hadn’t expected.  Needless to say, I was exhausted, depleted, drained, after those days, but more importantly, that is when the healing process started to begin. Don’t get me wrong,  I miss her like crazy, and to this day, 14 years later, it can still feel like it was yesterday.  But those days with trees and words and pages and stories marked an important turning point.

Before my time concluded, I found myself reflecting on how much I had learned from my mom; that I wanted to capture and celebrate. Things that naturally I fought with her about while growing up; rolled my eyes at more than once and tried to get out of more than once. I wrote on the back cover of the book all that came to my mind that day and filled it edge to edge.  While still needing her in my life; I knew that she had left me with so much grace and wisdom; and not to mention, some really practical stuff too!  🙂

So, today, I celebrate the lovely lady I knew as my mom; all that she taught me and all that she was. I have often said, if I could be even just half the woman she was, I would be quite a woman.  Miss ya mom!

{ Off to find a tissue…Id love to hear about something you are glad your mama has taught you }


5 thoughts on “What a Lady

  1. Pam – thanks so much – yes, my mother taught such great lessons and tho her time here was much too short, she left behind a beautiful legacy! I do have the photo framed, and its next to my desk. A friend had asked me about dealing with the mother loss, so besides wanting to pay a tribute to my mom’s memory, I really wanted to share with anyone who might benefit, the book that had been such an agent of the healing process for me.


    • SweetPosyDreams, thanks for visiting and reading the post about my sweet mama…when we have people in our lives who are so influential, it’s wonderful to be able to ‘share’ a bit of their story with others that they might get just a glimpse of something amazing!


  2. Hi bonnie, what a lovely post. sounds like your mother taught you to be compassionate with yourself too. sometimes we have to give ourselves room to be ready to process difficult things.

    beautiful tribute. your mom looks so happy in that picture, i hope you have it framed!

    i’m glad you can remember her today and smile through the tears.


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