Valentine’s Day is often bitter-sweet for me. In 1999, Valentine’s Day was the beginning of the end of my mother’s life. I took my mom to the doctor on Valentine’s Day because she was suffering from a bad cold and by February 27th, my mother suddenly and unexpectedly died. I remember my mom asking me that day at the doctor’s office how I was going to spend Valentine’s Day. Every year Valentine’s Day is a reminder of my mother’s death and how she died too soon.
This year though, I thought I had made it through Valentine’s Day without being reminded of her death and I was quite surprised and relieved! I then realized it wasn’t Valentine’s Day that I had gotten through but rather, my husband’s 50th birthday celebration – to me they are very similar – celebrating my husband’s birth, the man that he is, and celebrating the love that I have for him and share with him. Nope, I didn’t forget after all…
It was then that I decided to write a Valentine blog in honor of my mother and all that she brought to my life and the life of my family. This year I am choosing to share and celebrate the life of my mother rather than mourn her death. My mother was a great example of how one can take a tragic situation and make a choice to turn it into a loving and beautiful thing, which is exactly what I try to highlight here on my blog.
My mother wanted nothing more than to be a mother, and yet biologically she was unable to become one due to a tragic medical procedure that occurred in her teens. Thanks to my aunt, my mother learned about the foster care system and she and my father became foster parents and opened their home to countless foster children. Of these more than 20 foster children that they cared for over various lengths of time, they adopted 4 of them (myself included!) and 8 others stayed in the family through adulthood but were never formally adopted.
Like all mothers, my mother was not perfect and if you sit me and my siblings down, we can all probably tell you stories of how we are forever scarred because of something our mother did, didn’t do, said or didn’t say to us! However, if we look past the imperfections we can also tell you dozens of stories of how our mother loved us fiercely and unconditionally. Life gives us many things to question, but if we are lucky, we never question our mother’s love. For me, my mother’s love was the one thing in life I knew for sure. The one love I knew that would never abandon me, even when I disobeyed her or did things she didn’t agree with or approve of. That is a wonderful and special kind of love and I only wish children everywhere could experience this from their mothers.
My mother was a powerful woman, yet she stood only 4 feet 6 inches tall. She commanded attention because she was feisty and full of life. In addition to loving children, she loved nature and cultivated a beautiful garden that would stop passerbys in their tracks, causing people to pause and look at all the beautiful and colorful flowers in her front yard. People were taken aback by the beauty that my mother could nurture, just as she did with her children and grandchildren.
Motherhood is not an easy journey and like most things in life, we can focus on the imperfections or the beauty. My mother cannot re-author her story of motherhood-what she did and how she raised us is gone and over with. There are no new stories to write or memories to make, however, I can choose which memories and lessons I focus on and reminisce about. I can choose to focus on the fact that she is dead and gone much too soon or I can choose to celebrate the life she lived and the countless children and grandchildren that she helped raise.
So as the 14th anniversary of my mother’s death, February 27th, fast approaches, I write to her a very special Valentine that is filled with love and gratitude for the love and foundation that she gave me and my family. I share her story with you as a reminder (once again!), that our time here on earth is limited and to not waste your precious moments with your mother or your own precious moments of motherhood. Get out there and love fiercely and share the good times more than the bad! Happy Valentine’s Day! Yes, its February 25th, but every day should be filled with love!
Do you have any stories of your mother, motherhood or loss to share? How have you coped with grief? Please comment below as this blog is intended to generate dialogue and interactions. Please consider following, subscribing to and sharing my blog!
Until next time, aloha!