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Friday, February 22, 2013

How I became a mother to my mother figure

I started visiting Nancy a few years back, when she began fighting pancreatic cancer. I go see her once a week and usually bring soup.
When I started my visits, it was from a feeling of appreciation. Nancy had volunteered once a week for years at the charity I founded, HOPE Network for Single Mothers. I was grateful to Nancy for all the time she had given.
But something changed. My feeling of appreciation turned into love. I don't know how my feeling changed or where it changed or even why. It just did.
Nancy and I say "I love you" every time we talk. She calls me "Sweetheart." I call her "Sweetie pie." She gives me smooches right on the lips and I hug her skinny bones.
My mother died in 1978, so I had to raise my children without her guidance and love. That was hard. Nancy is 78. My own mom would be 82. Nancy is a friend to me, but I've imagined her as a kind of mother.
That's what I thought.
I have known for a long time that Nancy's mother died when Nancy was a baby. In all her 78 years, Nancy has never known a mother's love. Her husband abandoned her and she raised three sons without the support of a partner or a parent. She told me that she finds some comfort in the thought that she'll finally meet her mom after she leaves this earth.
The other day Nancy told me something that shocked me. Her wrinkly face burst into more wrinkles when she smiled and said, "I tell my son that you're my mother." 
She started calling me Mother Dear.
But I fooled her. I call her Mother Dear too.
Nancy after her new "pixie" haircut. Picture this beautiful face exploding with a smile. She hates her wrinkles but I love 'em.

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