A Bittersweet Mother’s Day

May 6, 2014

By Dr. Carolyn Anderson


With Mother’s Day coming up on Sunday, I wanted to take the time to remember my own mother and the amazing person that she was. I wouldn’t be who I am today without her guidance, love and support.

We had always been close, but became even closer when my son was born and we had a shared connection as mothers. It was amazing to see her shine in her new role as grandma.

This Mother’s Day will be my third year without my beloved mom and my sixth as a mother myself. As much as I miss her myself, what makes me even sadder is the fact that my son only knew his grandma for two-and-half years.

She will always live on in my heart and memory, but I fear that as my son grows older his memories will fade. I have done the best I can with sharing stories and pictures, but wish I had done more to capture my mom’s essence on film.

I remember my very first Mother’s Day as a mom myself in 2009. My son had surprised us by being six weeks early, so the first three months leading up to Mother’s day that first year had been more stressful than I even anticipated. We were not sleeping, I was pumping like a mad woman and we were anxiously awaiting him to top the scales at seven pounds.

I remember that my brother and sister came in from out of town to spend the day with us and my Mom was there also. I have this great picture of us (well great of everyone else, I looked like I was still pregnant with really bad hair and blotchy skin) in the backyard. Nicholas was so small yet so cute.

I don’t remember much else about that day but I do remember how I felt. I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude that I was experiencing motherhood for myself. I also remember really appreciating my own mom more than I ever had before. Up until the prior year, I wasn’t sure that becoming a mother was ever going to happen to me. We had been trying, and to be honest, I had just about given up on this dream until that amazing day when I peed on a stick that finally turned blue.

Growing up with my own wonderful mother gave me a lot to look up to. She had always been there for me, and always encouraged me to go after all my dreams. She was so strong and kind. Even when she had struggles with her personal life or health, she always seemed to rise above it to a place of hope and beauty and wisdom. Whenever I was scared, she would comfort me, whenever I was anxious she would calm me, and whenever I needed an ear she would listen. As I got older she became more than my mom, she became one of my closest friends. Mom-piano

While I miss her every day, I’m grateful for the legacy she left me and my brother and sister. She lives on in our memories, hearts and stories. I recently came across a woman who also recently lost her mother and started a company where she records peoples’ stories on film to live on for generations. I wish I had thought to record more pictures and videos of my mom over the years. I would love to see her in action and would especially love to show my son his beloved grandma so he never forgets the way she absolutely adored him.

My mom’s terminal cancer diagnosis was so unexpected that in her remaining months of treatments and palliative care we didn’t think to record more memories of her. And even if I had thought to do that, I wanted to remember her when she was vibrant and happy and I think she wanted the same. What I am forever grateful for is the amazing times we did have while she lived with us in those last months of her life on this planet. I feel blessed that I did have the insight to realize that in a few short months I would give anything to be able to talk to her. I knew I had to embrace every single moment. When she was feeling well, we would really be together laughing and talking and sharing. It is forever imprinted on my heart. Yet, I do still wish I would have captured on film more examples of the incredible woman my mom was before she was sick.

On this Mother’s Day, I would encourage you to spend the day with your loved ones and make some physical and mental memories. Take pictures of you and your children and make sure that if you have grandchildren, that their mothers aren’t behind the camera all day.  One day, your children and grandchildren will want to reminisce and look at old pictures and videos of the women that shaped them.

If you’re blessed enough to still have your mom, take some time to shift the camera or video camera off the cute children and grandkids, and ask her for her favorite Mother’s Day story and other memories. We never know what the future holds and I think that being mindful of recording memories is a way to make sure that we, our children, and our grandchildren have something to always remember us by.

Postscript- I had written this blog and it was ready to publish when my mother-in-law had a massive bleed in her brain. Sadly, we are not sure if she will still be with us on this Mother’s day. It’s a tragic reminder to cherish the time we do have with our loved ones.

About the Author: Dr. Carolyn Anderson is an eye surgeon who founded Impowerage to raise money for macular degeneration research. She practices cataract surgery in Langley, BC and is a professional speaker who speaks on managing your energy.

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