Home > Death, Grief, Love > I see my mom in me

I see my mom in me

My mom looked especially beautiful the first time she held her first grandchild.

She didn’t think so. She’d lost her hair to cancer treatment. It had just barely grown back in pale silver wisps.

She asked me not to take pictures. I took them anyway, understanding this might be my one and only chance to capture my mom with my son.



I shaved my head for kids cancer charity St. Baldrick’s two years after my mom died.

My mom hadn’t liked how she looked with so little hair, but I?

I hoped I’d look like her.

Her beauty flowed through her eyes and her smile, not her hair.

I didn’t know what to expect as I approached the restaurant bathroom with my newly bald head. Would I like the look? Would I loathe it? Most importantly, I wondered, would I look like Mom?

I wept with joy when I saw my reflection.

I saw my mom in me.

"Reunionized!" -- Dana (photo by Dana S)

Moments before with Dana (Photo by Dana S)

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Childhood cancer hasn’t hurt any of the kids I can hold–or could have held–with my arms. I’ve known childhood cancer through words and pictures alone, but, oh! How the kids in those histories–Donna and Aidan and Georgie–have moved me!

I’ve written many times about childhood cancer and my choice to shave my head. I won’t write at length here, but will renew two requests.

First, please consider donating to the most effective childhood cancer charities; I listed St. Baldrick’s, Alex’s Lemonade Stands and CureSearch previously. Your time, money and/or hair are valuable to these agencies.

Second, please smile instead of staring in quiet dismay when you see bald heads.

If the thought of talking to a stranger terrifies you, consider offering a smile. The power of a smile is enormous.

It’s that smile that shows the light within, and all those beautiful lights within reflected outward that brighten the world for all.

I sure feel shiny.

one month later

My mom lived to see 52. She didn’t die of childhood cancer, but she did love kids–rotund or scrawny, sick or well.

I, too, love kids.

When I act on my love of kids,

I see my mom in me.

mom me n d

  1. September 3, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    beautiful. Thank you!

  2. September 3, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    Yes, I too have heard stories about childhood cancer and other genetic defects & disorders that make me passionate about supporting children’s hospitals / health. A relative is friends with the parents of the girl behind Gold in September, which I wrote about on my blog last year: http://gomamao.com/2014/09/23/go-gold-in-september-pediatric-cancer-awareness/ And my heart aches for a friend who lost her 2 year old to a very rare form of cancer. Their stories stick & certainly make you thankful for good health & good days.

    • September 3, 2015 at 6:43 pm

      Oh yeah…I think you were the only person to “like” my post last year too. Thanks for being a loyal reader!! 🙂

  3. September 3, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    Your mom did look beautiful and you do also. Cancer is a dreadful thing. I am a survivor of lung cancer now for sixteen years, a miracle, but I lost my younger brother to cancer three years ago. When I see children with this my heart breaks not only because of the disease but their young years.

    • September 4, 2015 at 6:12 am

      I’m so glad you survived, but so sorry about your brother. I sometimes think of my siblings and wonder who among us might experience it someday. With both parents having had it, chances are … high. (I won’t say good.) I try not to think on it too much, though; today is today, and there is much to be thankful for in it. Like kind souls. ♡

  4. September 3, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    Simply beautiful. I love it!

  5. September 3, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    I am pretty certain that not only do you see you mama in yourself, she does too. And that your smiles match.

  6. September 4, 2015 at 3:53 am

    The smiles on this page make me smile. Thank you for doing what you are doing, for raising awareness and for encouraging all of us out here in the blogosphere to see past the surface and deeper. A smile can change the world, can’t it? You are beautiful.

    • September 4, 2015 at 6:15 am

      A smile really can change everything, especially when feeling lost or alone: To me, it is a sign I am seen, and not fearfully.

      I got something in both my eyes reading your comment. Thank you.

  7. September 4, 2015 at 4:23 am

    Keep on shining that beauty, Deb, everywhere you go. Your mom is proud. I often see my late father in things I do. He was such a sweet, generous, kind soul and it’s the least I can do.

    • September 4, 2015 at 6:15 am

      Thank you, Darla. I love to see your dad as I can here: through your words. Your graduation post still holds a place in my heart. ♡

  8. September 4, 2015 at 6:51 am

    My sister lost two sons, not to cancer but to a rare genetic disease. The oldest was 5 when he passed and the youngest only 18 months. She has taken that pain and focused it to help other children. Her focus is autism, but she helps so many others. I am sure that my sister’s sons and your mother smile down at the love that you share in their name. You are as beautiful as your mother, though she probably thinks you are more so.

    • September 7, 2015 at 4:54 am

      Oh, but my heart aches even reading that. I’m so sorry, no matter how recent or distantly that occurred. That she has translated some of that as she has is both remarkable and beautiful.

      Your last couple of sentences made my eyes blurry with tears. Thank you. ♥

      • September 14, 2015 at 7:13 pm

        Yes, it was difficult. It still is when she watches the nephews running about. My sister is an amazing person. Thanks for stopping by.

  9. September 4, 2015 at 7:48 am

    You are beautiful and a great loving mom. I thought it was awesome when you shaved your head for ST. Bald ricks. You looked gorgeous then. I hope none of our kids get cancer. There’s a blog I follow about craniofacial awareness (not cancer), that was good. It’s sad that they didn’t catch her sons craniofacial problem sooner😕. It’s also a good post for not giving up and doing research. Several doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong, so she researched and found out what it was.

    • September 7, 2015 at 5:03 am

      Thanks, Madeline. ♥ You, too, are a great loving mom. I quite literally have no idea how you do it, but feel younger-day Mom in you when we actually get to be together.

      Sometimes I’ll read a half-dozen blogs in a row and think, “Okay, so it’s inevitable. Which one(s) of us will it be?” I walk myself back down from the ledge by reminding myself there’s plenty now to experience and do, and that if such happens sometime down the road, we’ll all do part to lift each other through it. I hope it doesn’t happen, but I trust there will be good even in it.

      What you describe reminds me of Mom and D’s vitiligo. Mom took him to a bunch of appointments but the doctors couldn’t figure out what was going on. So Mom went down to the library and spent a bunch of time reading before telling our primary care provider, “He has vitiligo.” That was a really good example for me early on: Don’t trust even the people ideally responsible for accomplishing something to get it done.

      Going to check out the blog now!

    • September 7, 2015 at 5:09 am

      I’d never heard of it before your comment. I read the post you linked and immediately followed the blog. Someone who can write that post and in the first paragraph say, so matter of fact, she has to move fast or lose us (and why)? Yep, I’m in.

      The statement reminded me of the couple of times I even briefly touched on math in posts. Those posts got the least attention by far … more emphatically so if I included a math-related word in the title!

  10. September 4, 2015 at 11:34 am

    I remember when you did that and how brave I thought you were for doing it. I still believe that. You had a beautiful bald head.

  11. September 4, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    Beautiful. As a St. Baldrick’s regular (and Knight of the Bald Table, granted for 7 years shaving my head) I fully support your efforts. Your mom would be proud of you. Researchers funded by St. Baldrick’s and other foundations are needed due to lack of adequate government funding. Bald is beautiful.

    • September 7, 2015 at 5:11 am

      That is fantastic, Jim! I’ve been thinking of doing it again, but I’m pretty sure there’s no seven-year stretch in my future. (I’ll participate in other ways, certainly!)

      Bald is so beautiful.

  12. September 4, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    I always look out for your postings. So beautiful.

  13. September 5, 2015 at 6:05 am

    I have given to St Baldrics since you introduced me to them! I love them and loved you when you shaved your head.

  14. September 5, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    Beautiful. And your mom’s and your inner beauty shine so bright.

  15. September 6, 2015 at 10:46 am

    Instead of lurking I am going to comment and let you know that you touched my heart with your words and I am grateful for your thoughts and way of sharing them.

  16. September 8, 2015 at 2:25 am

    That’s lovely. As if it wasn’t bad enough that Rara making my eyes leak now you’re at it too….ffs! 🙂

  17. September 9, 2015 at 6:37 am

    I know this is about so much more than your physical looks, but I have to tell you, whenever I see the photo of your mom sitting at her yard sale, my first thought is that it is you. ❤️

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