A Mother’s Affirmation

After my Father died, my Mother came to live near us. She had suffered a massive stroke some years before and though her mind remained sharp as a tack, her body required constant care. At that time, my life was filled with the ordinary cares and duties of a householder—work responsibilities, family obligations, and maintaining a core of sanity with spiritual practice and as much self-care as I could muster. I was, like many at this juncture in life, juggling. I loved her dearly, yet I was about to sink under the additional responsibility of supporting her.

Making the Right Choice


That tiny window of time for a daughter and her mother near the end of her life was rich with spiritual gifts that still shine for me today. On one occasion, I was beside myself considering the choices we should make for her care. She asked me why I was troubled. I said, “I’m concerned because I want to make the right choice.” She looked straight at me, her eyes ablaze within the tiny frame of her physical body in the wheelchair, and she replied, “You always make the right choice.”

I was stunned by her words. I knew it wasn’t true. Or was it? Obviously, I had made many mistakes fueled by misguided choices. What was she talking about? This choice I was about to make would affect her life—it would determine where she would live and how she would receive care. How could she say that?

When I look back, I can see it was always her way. Affirm. Bring out self-confidence and strength. It’s a gift of love when our mother sees into our heart of basic goodness and affirms, “I know you will do the right thing.” The heart hears and we rise.


The Taste

Winter morning on the coast
sip of steaming coffee
fog clears, sunlight
breaks through tree ferns.

I remember the first taste
of coffee, as a girl
asking, when
will I be old enough?

You said, whenever you want it
without milk or sugar.

Black became the real thing,
lifelong love affair
with something bitter
that hints of sweet.

I think of you
your life,
its blows,
your smile.

Oh, I miss you
like a taste
like heat
like bitter
like sweet

Some lessons
from our mothers
arrive years later
with an aftertaste.

– Ellen Grace O’Brian, The Moon Reminded Me

Complement with these previous posts:

Spiritual Poetry from the View of the Poet (Interview with Ellen Grace O’Brian)

4 Goals for Spiritually Conscious Living

Mystical Poetry and Music: Transformative Evening of Fire and Grace

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