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My Daughter – Halley Stubis

A Mother’s Day Diary: Gems and Straw

Almost all cultures treasure mothers. In China, we say that children with mothers are gems and children without them are straw. A mother uses her own body like a seed pod to shelter and nurture her offspring the moment a life is conceived. She enriches her children’s lives in every possible way even after they grow up and become fathers or mothers themselves. A mother is for life.

Mothers come in all sizes and personalities. They can be loving and gentle, or sharp and aggressive. Sometimes they pinch us like crabs with sharp claws, or act like three-headed monsters when they get really, really angry. Their words can be sweet and filled with praise, or demanding and critical. Their own life experiences sometimes shape the way they teach us about ours, yet they always manage to push us forward.

My own mother had three mothers but not a single one to love her; one gave her life only to give her away, one adopted her more as a possession than as a daughter, and the last was a mother in name only: a pregnant high-school girl who “married” my mom’s adoptive father for 24 hours in order to give him the son he needed to carry on the family name. Despite her own unhappy life, my mother had so much love to give to me and my three sisters.

After I lost my mother to ovarian cancer, I cried every time I thought about her, looked at her pictures, and recalled our lives together. One day, my three-year-old daughter Halley looked at my sad face and said, “Mom, I know you’re sad because you lost your mother. How about from now on I’ll be your mother so you won’t be sad anymore?” Her sweet little voice carried so much “motherly love” as her little fingers touched my wet face that we embraced each other for a long, long time. As William Wordsworth once wrote, “The child is the father of man.” In this case, the child was the mother of woman.

Almost seven years have passed since I lost my mother and I can finally look at her pictures without being choked by emotion. A few times when I was about to be taken over by sadness, I remembered my little daughter’s promise and felt comforted. The loss of my mother has taught me how thin the line is between gems and straw.

Posted by Qin Sun Stubis

Previously posted comments:

Terry Joley
March 12, 2010 at 6:06PM

This is so touching–My birth mother is dying in a hospital in Oregon. I have been struggling with it so much as she never wanted me or my brothers and left us to fend for ourselves–it is sad to think of her on a ventilator in a hospital. She tried to kill herself many times–found out a few years ago she is bipolar. Now that she is dying she wants all artificial means used to keep her alive–very ironic. But tomorrow is day 14 on the ventilator and they are going to remove it (have to as 14 days is all that will be paid for) and possibly give her a tracheotomy if my brothers decide that is what should be done.

I just wish I could cry for her–I don’t hate her–just associate so much pain and neglect with her. I have a wonderful foster mom who I love dearly–she has been there for me in so many ways thru the years. She is not well either and I get teary eyed just thinking of losing her. She is the gem in my life and I am thankful for her.

Rona Maynard
March 13, 2010 at 2:02 AM

Welcome back, Terry. What a terrible time this must be for you. No matter what kind of mother you had, it’s always painful to lose her. In fact there’s a special kind of pain associated with an indifferent or neglectful mother because her death makes it so brutally clear that what you had from her is all you’ll ever have. You’re blessed to have a second mother in your life—one who’ll be with you in your heart and mind, if not at your side or on the other end of the phone.

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