Some of you know that my dear mother died last month, after a brief yet courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. This Musing is dedicated to her, my biggest and most ardent fan. Mom was, as a friend described her, truly a force. She tackled life with enthusiasm, determination and verve. My mother was a classic extrovert, and never met a stranger. She was always interested in what others did, thought and experienced. Mom was a master conversationalist, great listener, accomplished cook, avid bridge player, and elegant hostess. Many charitable organizations in my Texas hometown benefitted from her boundless energy and compassionate heart. Her legions of friends will attest that Mom knew how to have fun. Some of my fondest memories are of us laughing together until we cried.
I grew up in a family of five boisterous kids, and Mom and Daddy always had friends dropping by for a drink or dinner, or to play bridge, organize a big picnic at the beach, or plan a vacation together. Mom was always at the center of the action. You know you have a cool mom when your teenage friends come over just to chat with her at the kitchen table. I’m not sure how she did it, but Mom was at just about every recital, sports event, and speech the five of us ever did in school. She had a career in real estate sales for over 35 years. I think she enjoyed meeting new people, and helping them find the perfect home in Corpus Christi, a city that she promoted passionately.
My mother was beautiful, elegant and spirited. Of course, she was not perfect; she could be controlling and was never reticent to offer unsolicited advice. In loving her, I learned to love unconditionally. Mom helped me understand that we all have light and dark within us, and that is what makes us human.
Mom made the immediate decision after her diagnosis to refuse all treatment, as she wanted to spend whatever time remained focusing on the things she loved: being with family, friends, and living each day to the fullest. Relatives streamed to Texas to be with her one last time. She shared many precious and intimate moments with those she loved in her last 100 days. She and I talked about death and dying — she was not afraid, just very sad to think of leaving us. It was a sacred experience to keep my promise to be with her when she passed peacefully into God’s arms.
I share all this to honor Mom. If you know me (whether as coach, friend, or colleague), you have seen my mother’s influence in my life and my work. My hope is that you will reflect on someone dear to you, and thank them today for the impact they have had on your life. I thank Mom every day for all she gave to me, in ways that always inspire and comfort me. She will be greatly missed, yet will always live on in the hearts of those who loved her.
Sharon Keys Seal