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What Is A Mother?


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Dear Ones,

The following comes to us from Meredith Rivers, Hospice of the Valley's Director of Clinical Support Services:

What is a Mother?

Quietly, nearly 60 people made their way to the Administration Conference Rooms on May 8, the Saturday before Mother's Day. Shy and sad-tinged smiles were offered to one another as young and old took a seat in the u-shape row of chairs.

Many carried picture frames of all sizes and placed them tenderly on the blue-draped table in the center. Soon the "memory table" was full of treasured photos of mothers with bright, happy smiles. There were more stories in the middle of the room than we could even begin to imagine!

Bereavement Counselor Dee Unks warmly greeted everyone and gave a brief history of how the event started seven years ago and an overview of the afternoon. Deb Poling, another BC from Central, shared with the participants a few profound, light-hearted and wise statements defining the word "Mother." Deb assured everyone that no matter the relationship we had with our mothers, all were welcome and all manner of feelings were affirmed and valued.

After simple instructions on the coming activity, chattering participants, somewhat more relaxed, began to search the seemingly endless array of craft items available for their use. Soon everyone took a seat at the pastel covered tables and the room quieted markedly, as both young hands and aged fingers concentrated on how to portray their mother on the clay flowerpot they held in their hand. Waves of silence were punctuated by light banter, as the artists shared their mothers with each other and what their creation was trying to "say." Even our dear, blind participant, with the help of a buddy, decorated a pot in a way that spoke to her.

Gradually, slightly more light-hearted participants took their places again in the "memory" area. Some carried their creations; some left them to dry at the tables. West Valley BC Diane Lee invited everyone to share something about their mothers. Hesitantly, a gentleman speaking for the many members of his family in attendance rose to tell us about his mother and his flower pot. He pointed out his mother's picture on the table and it was passed around the room as he spoke.

Next a daughter rose and shared the humorous side of her mother, and why she was her very best friend. Her picture also made its way around the circle. Young and old, participants shared their tears and what they loved about their mothers-- each more endearing than the next. Two gentlemen came to honor their deceased wives, the mothers of their children and the loves of their lives. Another dad accompanied his two sons and spoke for them about the depth of their mother's love. A young woman in her 30's spontaneously cried out, "I miss my mommy!" and all heads nodded in agreement.

Tear-filled eyes listened, smiled and nodded at the universal "truths" filling the room. "Truths" making each mother unique, yet vibrant with the same amazing characteristics all our mothers seemed to possess in abundance.

Confidante; peace-maker; best friend; teacher; coach; cheer-leader; healer…these, and so many more, were attributes spoken with gratitude, tenderness and the silently understood feelings of grief all carried. No one wanted the sharing to end and tears were as normal as our breathing.

When everyone who wished had spoken, Joyce Vidal, NE bereavement counselor, led a candle-lighting ritual in which we proclaimed and honored our mothers. With this public expression of bereavement, we moved one step closer to healing; strengthening us to continue our unique, yet shared grief journeys.

As she earlier had warmly welcomed everyone, Dee once more thanked everyone present for the love, courage and self care they exhibited by coming to our day of remembrance. Each person was invited to take home a packet of seeds to plant in their decorated pot, a mother's day card (made by HOV volunteers) in which to write a personal message to their mom, and a pen decorated to look like a flower (made by BC Amanda Sahli). An HOV "green bag" was provided for them.

Next, ice cream sundaes were waiting, and everyone ended the day, gathered in our HOV kitchen, the way we all loved to gather and linger in our mothers' kitchens.

Quotes from evaluations:

"I was feeling very sad facing this day without mom. This get-together gave me something positive to look forward to. I know the journey is hard but being with all of you, I know I'm not alone."

"I enjoyed getting to know people and how they feel about their mothers. We are the same and mothers mean so much to us."

"It felt amazing to comfortably cry and let go of emotions that hadn't been realized yet."

"Thank you so much to be able to share how wonderful my grandmother was to me."

"Some people can't speak for being so emotional so I liked that you only spoke if you wanted to or could. I was interested to hear all the stories."

"I didn't feel out of place as I thought I might since my mother and I weren't on best terms and I didn't have my own children. Thank you."

~ Co-written by Mara Goebel and Dee Unks

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