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A mother’s life

My last coherent conversation with my mom was on Mother's Day 2007. Ten days later she was gone. I visited her a few days before her death, but by then she needed so much pain medication that lucid moments were rare.

Still, the ache of losing my mom isn't the sharpest on days like Mother's Day or her birthday. It's on random days of the year when the good and bad moments of life come up–those moments that I want to share–that I'm hit the hardest by her absence.

Moments like my boys' first swim meet. The stress of moving out-of-state twice in one year. The excitement of our upcoming trip to Europe. My flat tire. These are the types of things that make me want to pick up the phone and give her a call. She would rejoice, commiserate, encourage, advise, and listen.

Like the time I took the boys out to dinner while my husband was out of town, and left my wallet at home. The manager finally let me write a check using my employee badge from work as ID. I felt so foolish and needed to tell someone, but my husband was on a plane. So I called my mom.

We laughed about it and I felt better. I miss those times.

Like all of us, my mom wasn't perfect. But she was a good, loving mother, who also excelled as a grandmother. No one could have asked for better. Certainly not me.

She instilled in me a sense of adventure, diplomacy, and an open mind. I learned to share my love openly with those I care about. She modeled patience, compassion, adaptability, and determination. And yes, she was human. She could nag with the best of them, and I learned that too. Just ask my kids.

When she died at age 58, I learned just how much I relied on her to be there. I always knew this. Her death wasn't a wakeup call or major epiphany about how I was living my life or treating my family. Not the way it is in the movies. But no matter how much you prepare for the loss of someone important, you can't really prepare.

So now, almost three years after her death I still want to reach for the phone to tell her about the little things in life. Those are the times when it hits me that she's gone. Those are the times I want to cry, and sometimes still do.

But I can also celebrate that we had that kind of relationship.

I was lucky to have her.

Lenora Murray, 1948-2007

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  1. Reply

    Great post: I’m sorry to hear about your Mother. I also lost my mother, in 2004. She was awesome and probably gave me too much love, so yes I was spoiled. I don’t think I fully appreciated how much she did for me till I had kids of my own, now I wonder how she did so much. I still think of my mom everyday, I love her and I was very, very lucky to have her as my mother and best friend.

    Susan Shatto Burda 1948-2004


  2. Reply

    Very touching post.

    Your mother was WAY to young at the time of her death.

    I still have my mom and dad. 78 and 79 respectively. They’re a trip. Seriously

    • Reply

      Thanks, Cyndi. I agree. She was a healthy, vibrant person taken down by cancer. I’m glad my boys have so many good memories of her to carry with them. And I am very lucky to still have my dad, who is awesome.

      It’s great that your parents are still around and are a source of joy for you!

  3. Reply

    I’m sure your mom was (and would be) so proud of you. She sounds a lot like my mom, who I am still lucky enough to have around.

    =) Hope you had a wonderful mother’s day with those beautiful boys of yours.

    • Reply

      Thanks, Martha! I think she would be glad that I’m finally doing what I *really* want to be doing. She was always very supportive. As is my dad. I’ve been very lucky in life.

      I had a great mother’s day, and I hope you did too!

  4. KM Fawcett


    Very touching post, Gwen. Thank you for sharing this with us. Hope you had a happy mother’s day.

  5. Christine


    Hey you–I thought of you a lot yesterday and was glad you had a field trip to keep your mind on happy thoughts. I know what you mean about missing a parent during moments when you’d just like to pick up the phone and share a story, good or bad, about your life. We always do that whenever we go someplace interesting or see a cool movie with regard to my Dad. He passed away 8 years ago. And occasionally I will just bust up cause I miss him so much.

    Hugs!! And Happy Mother’s Day to you!!

  6. Linda



    What a beautiful essay…………..many of us could say some of the same things about our Moms……….”not a perfect person” but one we truly loved…….. One of the things that bothers me still (and as you know Grandma Frye passed away 5/5/l992) is that things happen every now and then that you desperately want to share with them and that noone else in the world would care one whit about!!! I think I am storing those up just in case I get to talk with her again sometime………….

    • Reply

      Thanks, Linda. It’s so true that certain little things that no one else wanted to know were sometimes the things she cared about most. I miss your mom too. There are so many things I wish she’d been around for, though I’m lucky to have had all my grandparents for as long as I did.

      I love your idea about saving up all of the things you’ve wanted to tell her.

  7. Reply

    So very touching. I’m glad your boys were able to know her. It’s the in between times when we think of those we’ve lost and smile or tear up.


  8. Mirella mccracken


    Gwen I love your post, you made me cry!! I was thinking what should I say to you to comfort you, but I guess nothing can take the pain of the loss of a parent!
    On a brighter note I want to tell you what a good writer you are and how much I enjoy reading you.

  9. Reply

    Gwen, I’m so sorry you lost your mother so young. It’s a reminder to us all to appreciate our parents and other loved ones while we can.

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