Things My Mother Taught Me Before She Died

When I was 6, you helped me find my own style. You’d make sure my hair was always neatly twisted with matching bow ties and barrettes. Every look I wore had a theme. Sometimes, I was a sailor girl. Sometimes I was dressed like Jane Fonda with a bright headband, a colorful track jacket, and fluffy leg warmers.

For special occasions, I was dressed like a glazed porcelain doll with lace gloves and white stockings. Gosh, I hated it. Even my play clothes were frilly and froufrou.

young ty

 

Screen shot 2013-05-04 at 8.38.18 AM

When I was 13, you taught me not to steal. By then I had loved being a girl and wanted desperately to be a woman like you. I had found the perfect fiery red lip–problem was, it was in YOUR makeup bag. I built up the nerve to steal it, and I wore it for picture day. Of course you never told to me that red lipstick would stain your lips. Needless to say, I got caught and was on punishment for a few weeks. But I just wanted to look like you.

me and mommy in the kitchen

When I was 18, you taught me how to be a mother. We changed messy diapers together, and took turns getting up at 4 in the morning to warm up bottles. But when I wasn’t paying attention one morning, my son took his diaper off and smeared poop all over his crib. We laughed about that later in life. But back then, you taught me that he was my responsibility and that was my mess to clean up.

When I was 25, you taught me that I was great. Every idea I had was fabulous in your eyes. First, I wanted to be a nail technician, you said, “Go for it!” Then, I wanted to be a cartoonist, you said, “Well… you can draw really good, maybe you should try that!” Then I said I want to be a runway model like Naomi Campbell, you said, “You can be anything, all you have to do is DECIDE!” I finally became a writer. And when I found my newspaper clippings in your scrapbook bag, I knew that you were proud.

When I was 35, you taught me how to tackle problems with grace and elegance. I watched Cancer take over your body and steal your gorgeous grey tresses–but still… you smiled through every moment of that journey. Even when you were in pain, you held my hand and said that you would be ok.

young mommy

Early Monday morning, you taught me that angels were real. The moon shined so bright that evening. I couldn’t sleep so I just stared at it for hours. When my head got heavy I finally closed my eyes and to my surprise you were right there. In dreams, you sat with me and we talked for a while. No one will be surprised to know that we even went shopping in my dreams. I woke up in tears because it felt so real. I walked out into the living room, only to find an empty bed.

It’s true, your body will forever be gone, but you’re always here with us. In our dreams, through our voices, and even in how I look. When people ask me am I ok, I promise to think about all the things I’ve learned and say, “I will be.” Because the most important thing you ever taught me was how to be a good person!

mom obituary

About Ty Alexander

As seen in Redbook Magazine, CNN and NY Daily News, NY-based writer Ty Alexander makes grey hair not only acceptable but fierce and fabulous.

30 Responses to Things My Mother Taught Me Before She Died

  1. Rebecca says:

    What beautiful lessons to have received from your mother. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  2. Mia says:

    So beautiful Ty. She’s smiling down on you…

    Love,

    Mia

  3. msliza says:

    Beautiful. ..brought tears to my eyes but warmed my heart.my mom is ill and its difficult. ..thank you

  4. Yakini says:

    Your mother was so beautiful, and she is an angel now smiling down at you and all that you continue to achieve! You and your family are in my prayers. ((hugs))

  5. terrell says:

    Luv u beautiful..

  6. Nefferth says:

    A loved one passing is never an easy process to digest. What a beautiful hommage to your mother on remembering the lessons she gave to you. It is so real what you say.
    Nefferth recently posted..Mode Plus Mix | Royal BlueMy Profile

  7. Marie Denee says:

    Sending you my love darling… lifting you up.

  8. Kelly B. says:

    Ty, this is simply beautiful. you and your family are in my prayers and i know are strong! your mother is proud of you!

  9. Yoli Ouiya says:

    This is beautiful… a true reflection of you and your mother’s spirit. My the universe continue to conspire you two being able to connect and converse whenever you need: awake or asleep.

  10. Tiffany says:

    That was beautiful Ty. Prayers and love to you and your family. Your mother’s beauty shines through you in every way.
    Tiffany recently posted..Let’s talk Pants people…My Profile

  11. Tamira says:

    Hey Ty thanks for sharing this it was beautiful. May you continue to stay strong. My prayers go out to you and your family. Be Blessed!

  12. Ty, I am so amazed by you. You have handled unthinkable pain with strength and grace. Your mother must be so proud of you! She raised you to be an extraordinary woman. She is an inextricable part of you, from your looks to your mannerisms to your style to your character, and you share a love with her that death can’t even separate you both from. I am here for you 100% and can’t wait til me, you, danielle and christina are together so we can surround you in the biggest hug. Praying for you and your family everyday. Love you so much!
    Jess

  13. Natasha P says:

    Sending prayers and condolences to you and your family.

  14. You have been so amazing through this and sharing the end of your mother’s journey here on Earth with all of us. She was proud of you, loved you and sounds like she was an absolutely wonderful woman just like she taught you to be. Losing a parent is such a surreal journey no matter the age and the grief process from the moment we find out they wont be here forever to years after they have gone can be such a challenge and by sharing your story you may have made it a bit more bearable for others. You are strong, inspiring and beautiful inside and out.
    All the love in the world
    xoxo
    S
    Stiletto Siren recently posted..Happy International No Diet Day!My Profile

  15. Great lessons. My thoughts and prayers with you and your family!

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  17. This was beautiful, and I am thankful to your mother for placing strength and love in you- that strength and love that eventually brought you to NY and made you a part of my life- this was an incredible piece of writing and a glance into your amazing life with your mom, a true angel.

    Thank you for sharing this with all of us.
    XO always
    Meg

  18. Ylorie says:

    I enjoy reading this over and over again! xo

  19. An amazing way to remember your mom. It brought tears to my eyes but made me think of my mom. She’s still living and drives me crazy some times but I love her and all the lessons she’s taught me along the way.

    Ty, thanks for sharing.

  20. Ekua Holmes says:

    I stumbled upon this while looking for information on porcelain dolls. I am so glad that I did. I have also lost my wonderful mother but feel blessed, as you must to have had her as a guide, confidant, role model and friend among so many other things. Its no coincidence.

    Thank you for your illuminating words. After my mother died I had a dream like yours – so real! In it I felt she was telling me that it was ok to become an artist even though it might not be easy or lucrative. I quit my job and followed my dream.

    My only regret is that I couldn’t share the journey with her, but I often stop and appreciate the things she taught me that made it easier for me to be successful.

    Your words have made this a beautiful Sunday morning of remembrance. Thank you.

    Warmly,
    Ekua Holmes

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  24. Lisa Boone says:

    What a beautiful story! My prayers are with you !

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