That's my Mama!

Here I go again, finding my emotional wellbeing taxed. Another Mother’s Day is upon us. I am a mother, and I had a mother. Rather prolific, huh? But, that’s past tense. I had a mother. She passed away three days after Mother’s Day in 1999. Life has just not been the same since then. I would think the only thing more difficult than losing your mother would be losing your child.

Mama was in a coma for nearly three weeks before she died, the result of a massive stroke following open-heart surgery. To say those three weeks were arduous is a gross understatement. They were more like experiencing hell right here on earth. My faith was tried, my patience was tried, my physical body was tried. Being in a position that I could easily stay there at her bedside almost around the clock, I taxed my mind, spirit and body to the limits. I did not want to leave her, and I did not want her to leave me, either. For nearly one month I was consumed with the process of losing Mama. Nothing existed in life outside of that. There were false hopes and anticipations. We would be told by one doctor she might pull through, while another would use terms such as “brain dead” and “vegetative state.”  Emotions were a virtual roller coaster ride—up one second, plunging downward the next.

My mama was my best friend, and as such, she helped me keep my emotional wellbeing more balanced. If I had a question about how to get my baby’s fever down, I’d call Mama. If I needed to know something about a recipe, I’d call Mama. If something was bothering me and causing me stress, I’d call Mama. If I just wanted to talk about nothing at all, or go shopping, or have lunch—you got it—I called Mama. We were supposed to thin out the amaryllises in her front yard that May, but we never got around to that. It’s the craziest thing. Even now, twelve years later, I occasionally catch myself thinking about going to the phone and dialing her up to ask a question, share a success or maybe drive over to sit and talk, to lean on her strong shoulder, and especially to tell her how much I love her.

I wish my granddaughters would have had the privilege of knowing her. She was an excellent grandma, absolutely one of the best. In addition to being a successful professional in county government, she was also one of the best cooks in the South, could knit an afghan or sweater, crochet, sew, read multiple books at one time, and pampered her grandchildren ridiculously. She taught them the same things she taught me—simple things such as dog-earing the corners of sheets when you make a bed, turning off the light when you leave a room, how to present  yourself properly in a public setting, to always consider the impact your words and actions have on the feelings of others, and especially the value of faith in God.

This year is especially tough for me. Twelve years ago I walked out of the fourth floor of the hospital, leaving my mother behind. She was taken out of the hospital on a funeral home gurney. This year, almost twelve years to the day after she had been admitted, I left the fourth floor of the hospital. I was leaving in a wheelchair, having also suffered a stroke—a TIA, or mini-stroke, and God willing, I will have a full and complete recovery. I find that all too ironic.

I still miss my mother, and always will. So, my sincere message is this: Mamas are a gift from the hands of God. If yours is still alive, don’t wait for Mother’s Day to tell her how much you appreciate all she has ever done for you, and how very much you love her. It will most assuredly help your emotional wellbeing.

Go…now…call Mama!

For more information, contact: American Stroke Association: A Division of American Heart Association:http://www/ or call 888-4STROKE (478-7653)

Listen to Carolyn’s interview with Cynthia Brennen, on “Help, Hope & Healing.” Visit her second blog on Everyday Health: Living With Heart Disease, or visit her website at

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