My mom was a beautiful person inside and out. When she was young, she was skinny with long brown hair and her smile, wow, it was so beautiful. in fact I don’t recall ever seeing a photo of her not showing off her smile. Because when she did there was a glow about her. It comforted me when I was young, as far back as I can remember. Darlene was her name to others but it was mom for me and with that came a special blessing I would only realize later in life. She had one simple goal for us growing up and it has become a motto of mine; Be happy no matter what you do or who you are. When I would ask her opinion of something, her first question always would be, “will it make you happy?”
Now that I’m older and she is gone I often wonder where she got that optimism from. Was it from being sick when she was young with cancer and surviving? Was it something instilled in her as a young woman from a family member? Or was it the fact that near the same time as battling cancer she was faced with a miscarriage and only a year later to have her second son born with a congenital heart defect. All of this by the age of about 20. What this beautiful soul went through, only to be handed challenge after challenge, I can only appreciate it fully now that I am older with my own family and dealing with my own obstacles.
Sadly she would continue to be tested, and tested with a vengeance, with a husband that loved her but loved work and alcohol just a bit more. She would endure cervical cancer and survive. Survive open heart surgery for triple bypass and a mitral valve replacement. And finally while caring for her dying husband and watching a strong man, the love of her life, wither from lung cancer she found out her own fate. It was too much for her to fight the last time. She had found out about ⅔ of the way through my father’s fight that she had pancreatic cancer . She was gone about eight weeks after my father’s passing. Both a young 53 years of age.
But this isn’t a story about death, it’s a story of strength and resilience. The question is how does one person endure so much pain, yet at the same time give so much love and inspiration, support and comfort and ask nothing in return? That’s right, besides the little grievances we hear growing up like; put your laundry away, clean up your room or do the dishes. I heard crickets from my mom. Never complaining, never. It was always other people first, their needs before her’s or somehow their priorities were more important. She was known as the “glue” of the family. Her coming from a large family of 7 siblings and my father of 5. Any event or Holiday for the most part was put on her shoulders but believe me it was her that placed it there. What made this woman tick i often now wonder?
That’s what made my mom great. She was the best person to raise me given the condition I was born with. She was an awesome “Heart Mom” before there was even that phrase. She wasn’t here to see me start to have major complications. She missed my first pacemaker, my first ablation, my first cardioversion and my first cardiac MRI. She missed when I was first diagnosed with heart failure. She missed it! And I’m glad she did! She had dealt with enough and left this world knowing I was ok and that she did a great job! She taught me how to handle it on my own and much, much more. That’s what made her a great “heart mom.”
Mom’s are the supportive backbone to any child born with CHD. We need encouragement, positive energy, good thoughts, lots of love and affection. We get that from our moms. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure there are great dads out there that are raising or being a full part of their child’s life with CHD. And I would love to hear from them as well. But for now this it about the relentless, untiring and unwavering moms out there caring for their babies no matter how old they are. My mom was awesome and I am sure if you are reading this you or someone you know is too!! So thanks to all of you from all of us!
This post was inspired by an article I read written by an awesome heart mom, you can read her story here: Happyheartsforabit.com