adj. concerned more with the needs and wishes of others that with one’s own; unselfish
I wear a Pandora bracelet that dates back seven years in my life. It is filled with all silver baubles - mostly because I love silver and because I like the uniformity. There is one charm in particular, though, that stands out. Instead of being silver, it is a bright blue ring with pale blue flowers around it, and I am often asked about it.
“What’s that one about?” people will ask me. And I will tell them, “it’s a gift from my mom.”
Not that it was the only charm she ever gave me. She loved buying them - a teapot, a rose bush, a mom charm, and she was always on the lookout for more.
“I wonder, she said, if there is something that represents Israel?” I would love to get that one for you next.
We were planning a trip to Israel in December of 2012. Years in the making, this trip would see my two daughters celebrate their bat mitzvahs at the Western Wall and it would be a family affair - Kevin, me, Jac, Emma, my in-laws, sister-in-law and mom all planned to make the trek to mark this occasion. No one was more excited about it than my mother. Perhaps in her quiet moments she was a bit nervous - she would be, after all, 83 years old at the time of the trip, but this woman was a powerhouse 83 and always ready for an adventure. “Molly McBubby” would be Israel bound and I was sure Pandora would have just the thing!
And then she got sick.
In the summer of 2011 she started to feel very tired. A trip to the doctor’s office to explore why resulted in a trip to the hospital the same day, and soon the news would be that she had bile duct cancer.
“I won’t be able to go to Israel now,” she said as I sat sadly by her gurney, holding her hand.
“No,” I said, devastated. “Maybe not”, honestly thinking that she wouldn’t be given the choice. I really thought, hearing the diagnosis, that my mother would likely die by then. The trip was still 16 months away. But as things happened, those sixteen months were filled with hospital stays, surgeries, medications, prayer, memories and one very stubborn Scottish lady who wanted more than anything to live.
By the fall of 2012, just one month prior to our planned departure, my mother was very ill, but very much alive, and very adamant that we would continue on with our plans without her.
Anyone who has experienced cancer in a loved one can relate. At this point, my mother’s life might end at any time. Tomorrows were no longer guaranteed. How could I possibly leave her?
Today’s word is selfless. What my mother said to me in those days is the most selfless thing I have ever heard.
“You will leave because you must always face the future. I am your past. Kevin and your girls are your future, and you must always go into your future with strength.”
She even started calling our best friends to have them talk us into getting on the plane. And so we did. It was simply the most difficult thing I have ever had to do.
I left my mother lying in yet another hospital bed as we left for the airport. The girls modelled their bat mitzvah dresses, gave her a kiss and said goodbye. As I did the same, I asked my mother to be here when I came back 10 days later.
She said she would be. And she was. For three weeks upon our return she was. And then on January 30, 2013 - five years ago today - she died.
On the day of her funeral, I returned to her apartment after the service. No sooner was I there, when there was a knock on the door and her good friend, Norma, was there holding a Pandora bag in her hand.
“Your mother wanted you to have this”, she said.
Inside was the blue charm.
“She wanted you to be reminded that you must always go into your future with strength.”
And so I do.