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I Am My Mother's Daughter

All through our daughters' engagements.  Wedding plans.  Marriages and babies.  It was there.  Quietly and politely kept at a distance, so it wouldn't interfere with our joy.  Borne bravely.  Privately.  But it was there.  Wigs and chemo.  Surgery and extended hospital stays.  Doctor's visits and very short lived moments in the clear.  But it came back.  Like it always does.  And then again.  And now once again.  Like a freight train gaining power and strength.  As you loose yours. 

I never met your mother, my grandmother.  She died of breast cancer at 36 years of age.  Leaving your father with four children to raise.  You and your two sisters, all teenaged girls, and your brother, only eight years old.  Your Dad remarried within the year and moved your family to California.  To a new town and a new school, with a new mother.  Who wasn't yours. 

You fought for your father's attention.  Keeping him out late on private joy rides in his truck.  Knowing your step-mother was expecting you both for dinner, but for a moment he had forgotten, and for that brief second, he was yours again.

But it didn't last.  You left this new home, made up of the father you loved and a mother you didn't know, and returned to BC.  To the home of your aunt, your father's sister.  Where you finished grade 12 with your cousins for syblings and your aunt and uncle for parents.  They were kind to you.  You were happy in their house.  

But graduation came and with it expectations.  So you moved out with your best friend.  To a basement suite where you would make a pot of stew on Monday and eat it all week long so you could spent your office salaries on clothes and shoes.

Lots of boys tried to win you.  But you chose the blue eyed son of a preacher.  Slim from youth and muscular from hours at his Summer job, jackhammering.  He's the one who's been beside you for the past 53 years.  He's the one running out now, to buy you Boost, because once again, you're in too much pain to eat.

Your ovaries are gone, along with the rest of your reproductive system.  But that doesn't keep it from coming back.  It finds other organs to feed on.  While you starve.  

But here there are babies.  With bright blue eyes, and furrowed, confused little brows.  Their heads bobble as they try to look around.  They're growing.  Getting chubby.  Rolling over.  They coo and have begun to laugh.  There are swings and play mats.  Diapers and soothers.  There's joy.  And life is beginning again.  As yours winds down.  As you suffer and shrink, they thrive and grow.

Their mothers are delighted.  Overjoyed to be mothers themselves.  To have little babes to love.  Just as you did.  And I did.  Each new generation rejoicing in their own children.   We learned this from you.  The joy of motherhood, homemaking.  The pride in one's home and family.  In homemade birthday cakes and lovingly decorated rooms.  Things your mother taught you.  I never knew her.  But I know I fold my towels the same way she did.  The way you taught me.  The "proper" way.

And while these new little girls will long out live us both, you're there, in them.  Just as your mother resides me in.  Even now, you reside in them.  In their nurseries so thoughtfully prepared in excited anticipation of their births.  In the faith they'll be taught.  In the committed marriages that will envelop them as they grow.  You'll be there.

Four generations.  What a lovely thing.  How rare.  And echoes from those who came even earlier.

And here I am, in the middle, bridging the gap.  Loving you both.  Living through each of you.  As one I love suffers and the others I love rejoice.

Holding within me the exquisite tension of knowing that for this brief shining moment I have it all.  I have all of you.  That for this glimmering second, we can pretend, it's perfect.



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Reader Comments (7)

Shonna, Well said. This is a lovely tribute to Mom.

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCherie

Shonna, this moved me to tears, you expressed it so beautifully. So much of it I could relate to because our Mothers are sisters, bits of the family history, and I am guessing we may fold towels the same way? the "proper" way. I appreciate you taking the time to share, in writing your blog, as well as your FB posts, and look forward to reading more. Love and prayers, hugs and kisses, Kande.

February 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKande

Thanks so much Kande. xoxo
In thirds the long way, in half, then in three. Seams to the back on the shelf. :)

February 13, 2014 | Registered CommenterShonna Dudar

Hi Shonna - I saw this picture and thought it must be you and checked out this blog. Very beautifully expressed Shonna. So very sorry to learn your Mom is doing so poorly. May God strengthen all of you as you walk through this hard journey. Love, Cathy

February 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCathy Penner

So beautifully written Shonna...brought me to tears. I too have suffered & endured a loving, best friend mom who was taken too young..at 70 from Cancer. She & I never got the chance to enjoy my 'grand babies' but I am thankful I had her around to meet my daughters when they were adopted into our family in 1993. She was living with us at the time too so she was such a help to us all in 'adjusting' to our new family. I miss her dearly every day. Thank you for so eloquently sharing. We are never old enough to lose our moms...xoxo

April 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPatsi Metherel

So beautiful Shonna! I never appreciated my mother more than when I became a mother myself? Suddenly the issues we had when I was a teenager seemed so small and unimportant. I saw her in a new light and I was so grateful for her. Thank you for sharing your heart and your mother's story! So moving! Love you! Xo Lisa

April 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLisa B

I was taken back by how beautifully written this was. A wonderful tribute to your mom and all the women who have been taken too soon by cancer. Thank you for sharing what I know to be a very difficult and emotional time. Her legacy lives on through you, your beautiful daughters and grand babies.

April 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSue A

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