Monday, June 03, 2013

Gifts

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My mother was a nurse.  For more than 20 years she took care of newborn babies at the University of Tennessee hospital.  By the time I had Juliana at 19, mom was head nurse of the newborn nursery and gave her first grandchild her first bath there.  In the same nursery where she had rocked thousands of babies, prayed for each one I am certain, stayed awake with them through nightshift after nightshift (so that she could be with her own during the day), assured their new mothers, and even rocked some babies that were born addicted as they died.  I always wondered how you could have a mother that wasn't a nurse.  How did that work?  Didn't you have to be a nurse to put a band-aid on just so, know exactly when to call the doctor and when to stay home, determine whether a fever was just a virus or a bacteria, know by the color of a child's lips if they should go to bed.

What my mother had as much as her gift of love and gift of care, was a gift of humility.  I was first made really aware of this when Juliana was a brand new baby (1992).  I was still living at home, before Jeff and I were married. In the days before she was born, mom had attended a nursing conference that shared new research of how to put a baby to bed..... after decades of putting babies on their tummies, it was time- the experts said- to put them on their backs.  I will never forget the two of us, standing over Juliana's bassinet, staring at her on her back.  Each of us sort of twitching at it.  I could see in my mother's face that it seemed to go against everything that she had ever known.  Yet she was willing to watch with an even closer eye, trusting all she had been taught, trusting her instincts too, but ultimately having the humility to learn something new in the hopes that eventually she could become accustom to what might be even safer still.  She was about nothing if she was not about safety.  But prevailing over all was her faith, and feeling humble or unsure for her simply meant praying more.

I could write forever about her attributes, but in these doses, I am so very focused these past days on what gifts they each were.  In gift, I mean, that they were given to me.  Given to my sister.  Given to my brother. Given to my father.  We now hold them.  They are ours.  I am not a nurse, but I am a mother who learned everything from her.  And the hands that hold all my babies, do so with ease because of my mother and the gifts that she so unselfishly gave to me.  I so often think of how she held newborns, with their back against just one of her long graceful inner forearms, back of their head cradled in her open, reassuring and strong hand, little legs left to do as they wished, little hands always tucked towards each other.... her other hand, rubbing the belly, and how she kept her face only a few inches away, talking, smiling, loving.  It was a thing of beauty.  I feel it in my own hold, and I yearn to feel it any minute as we await this little girl.

Juliana took these pictures of mom and I last summer.  They are becoming an important part of replacing the suffering that is so raw in my mind with her health and her beauty.  No one has ever accused me of looking like my mother, really, I am almost completely my father in visage.  Yet, one of the many gifts of hers I am proud to own is smiling from within.  Which to me is so evident in that last picture of us.  We have how we smile so in common that we look identical.  Thank you, Mama.

And thank each of you for your prayers, your thoughts, your words, spoken, written, or simply thought to yourself.  It does help, and there are few ways to thank you really.  But you should know how it comforts me.  And for all of you who know just what it is to do this part of life, and those who anticipate it one day near or far, I send you my love.

Life is moving.  It is a pace I've never known.  The pace of mourning but also of rejoicing.  It is all so miraculous that it hurts for reasons that are full of light and some that are still dark and low.  I am a little more someone I recognize, but now so physically encumbered with this little one, pressing, and shifting, and threatening her arrival, that I am slow still.  Perhaps the tempo of my heart has risen a bit.  A new baby dress.  A new patchwork cover for the rocker mom bought me 15 years ago for Nicolas. The last few rounds of a knitted romper.  Yes. We are moving. Towards her. 

With so much love, Anna

ps. Pierrette will be taking over much of my posting duties here at the blog for all studio-related posts.  There has been too much exciting and pretty stuff happening to keep you in the dark, so I hope you are looking forward to some goodies, sales and updates here soon.  The joy continues.

82 comments:

  1. Dear Anna, So sorry to read about your Mothers passing, what a beautiful lady she was. What wonderful memories you all have of her. Thinking of you. Take care.Sandi

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  2. What a beautiful, eloquent, perfect tribute. I laughed when you said I always wondered how you could have a mother that wasn't a nurse. I smiled at the priceless photos. I love that you look identical because you both smile from within. Two amazing, wonderful women.

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  3. That was so beautiful. I'm crying like a baby myself. Lovely. so very lovely.

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  4. This is an incredibly loving and beautiful tribute to your mom. xoxo

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  5. I am so sorry for your loss. You make her come to life in your words.

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  6. Beautiful tribute! Thinking of you all, and know that baby girl will know her grandma through your smile and love, and loving blanket your Momma made her! Love is powerful balm/medicine. Your momma will be with you in your heart as you give birth.

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  7. One of the most vivid memories of my Pediatric Residency is that of the neonatal nurses guiding/loving/cherishing doomed infants through death. Many of these babies were born to people affected by addiction or unable to cope with their loved one's dying. When the parents for whatever reason could not or would not be there for the end, these nurses stepped in with such love. I have never felt ceremony as strongly as I did watching these nurses loving, holding, talking these babies through their last hours on earth. . . Such a gift to be loved at the end. . . Such a gift to be with your mother at that time. Love to you.

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  8. Anonymous7:08 PM

    A loving open beautiful tribute to your mama.... it brought tears to my eyes as well remembering the loss of my own mama slipping away from us... Peace and love to you all....

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  9. Dear Anna, what beautiful and loving words not to mention those fantastic pictures of two beautiful women. Thank you for putting into words what most of us struggle to say.
    I lost my mum ten years ago, we weren't close, I wasn't there when she died (we live on opposite sides of the globe) but she is still with me in some way and yours will always be there too. Anna x

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  10. Those photos are gorgeous - and you DO look so alike in that last one - you both glow....

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  11. Amy L7:57 PM

    Anna, a year ago I was sitting, along with my father and brother, at my mother's bedside. Next week will mark a year since she left this life. Those days were among the most dreadful and the most precious I've ever known, a tangle of intense grief and huge love. You articulate so beautifully this paradox of emotion.

    Like you, I learned my love of handwork at my mother's knee. In the days after she died I couldn't get enough of her work, things that over the years had become so familiar to the landscape of our homes that I'd stopped admiring the details. Many folks - her family, friends, colleagues - have taken time to tell me about or show me the special pillow or sweater or sampler that she made for them. What a legacy of love, like that of your dear mother.

    As time passes I find that I remember less and less of my mother's illness and more and more of her faith and strength and fierce love for her family. I pray that you will find the same, and that the joy of your little girl's arrival will be sweeter still, knowing that she is blessed with such a wonderful guardian angel.

    Prayers and love to you.

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  12. this is such beautiful writing
    and I LOVE the last picture of the two of you

    Hope you have a beautiful birth experience with your new baby girl

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  13. Big tears. Your words are so approachable, so easy to put myself in your place. So grateful for the new little life coming to you soon, crazy how the cycle continues. You are a true inspiration to so many, I'm sure your mother was too =).

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  14. We miss your Mom a lot ... it's so lovely to read your thoughts about her. Love these pics, too!

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  15. Oh my how you brought back those dread filled, loved filled days spent with my Mom as she headed home 30yrs ago now. So much of the raw pain of those days is gone and the joy of her gifts is always close to me. Many prayers still headed to you and yours, we are all awaiting your little girl too.

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  16. This is such a beautiful post.
    Your writing is so vivid, and we can see the light of your mother coming through your remembrances of her.
    Your family is in my thoughts through your time of sorrow.

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  17. What lovely snapshots of you and your mother.

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  18. i agree whole-heartedly with the last post. i am so sorry for your loss. i too lost my mother (at the age of 69) almost four years ago. I can tell you the memories we cherish get me through the rough patches. It does get easier to bear ... with time. i will pray for both you and and your mother.

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  19. Not that I ever really have forgotten, but you have brought forth all the things I remember as gifts from my Mother and my Grandmother. Patience and coping mechanisms, yes, but the love and how to give it, the laughter, the smiles, the compassion. I have missed my Mom for 29 years. I think of her every day. I am so sorry for your loss.

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  20. That picture of you and your mom smiling, laughing. What a treasure.

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  21. I am so glad you have the pictures of you and your mom. And please know that it is ok to feel joy now. You have a new life headed your way that will bring you so much joy and it is ok to feel that happiness. Your mother would so want you to be happy. She will always be in your heart and your children will always know her through you. xo jan

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  22. Someone told me, after my mother died, that I was lucky to be so very sad because that meant what I'd had with my mother was just as wonderful.

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  23. Until you meet again, I've been a long time without my mother but I know she's with me everyday! God needed another angel

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  24. I thought about how much you resembled your mother in the picture in your last post. She is quite lovely and so are you. I hope this quote helps a little. I have thought of it a lot lately through some of our own turmoils:

    Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.
    -Bill Cosby

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  25. such a beautiful remembrance for your mother.

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  26. Through tears, both sad and joyful, I read this post.
    Thank you for sharing these recollections and reflections. They
    are so touching, and dear. Even now, you make things beautiful,
    Anna Maria. God bless you.

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  27. I believe that the if the world works at all, it's due to the beautiful people in it such as your mother, Anna.

    It was a lovely tribute, well stated. What on this earth could be better than to have your beloved mom live on through you, and your siblings, and your children, and their children.

    May God Bless.

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  28. This is such a lovely tribute post! I have been reading your blog for a few years, I think since Roman was born, or thereabouts, and your vision through life and death moments is so beautiful and yet always completely relatable. I am so sure that your mother is looking at you right now with so much love. Praying for peace for you, and that your "mourning turns to dancing" soon.

    God bless!

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  29. This is so beautiful, Anna Maria...gosh. Made me think of my mom and what she has taught me, and her mom and what she taught her...and what I'm now teaching my 5 year old daughter and how she can pass that on to her one little ones someday. It's something very special, and you sound like you had a really amazing woman to help YOU become an amazing mom too. Take care.

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  30. In the last pic, the smiles are almost identical. I look like my father too, but some bits of me are so much my mother and now as I grow older the resemblance is almost striking...

    This is beautifully written, Anna Maria. And I am thinking of my mother as I write, and I can feel her right next to me even though its 15 years since she passed away.

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  31. Anonymous5:05 AM

    This is such a touching tribute to your wonderful mother. Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts with us. She was a loving and dedicated mother and nurse. The world was and is a better place because she touched so many lives. I send you many hugs as you make your way through this bittersweet time in your life.
    Jennifer

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  32. thank you for sharing your heart und thank you that you write about your mamas faith. that is a huge gift, too, and so many in todays world can not find faith. I´m so so sorry that your mom is gone. wish you a truck load of strength and blessings and a beautiful birth, soon.

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  33. Love is the gift that goes on giving. Peace, blessings and prayers for you and your family as you await the birth of your child.

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  34. Love that last picture....what a blessing to have.

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  35. Tünde6:35 AM

    Beautiful remembrance Anna Maria.
    Thank you for sharing it with all of us.
    Wishing you a wonderful birth experience.


    Tünde

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  36. Your Mama was beautiful and she looked so happy to be with her daughter. My heart breaks for you.

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  37. Until yesterday i read about your mother! Im very sure that our parents can take care more of us when they're gone.
    Now your mother can be with you 24/7 looking every single thing that you do! and she is gonna be there during your child birth!!

    xxx
    My heart with you!

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  38. My mom is very ill and was a nurse for 30 years... I too find nursing and motherhood almost interchangable, how can it not be when both are synonomous with caring, selflessness and comfort? Much love to you and your family.

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  39. This was so beautiful. I am very sorry for your loss.

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  40. God bless you, Anna Maria. And God bless the memory of your sweet Mama.

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  41. Julie9:47 AM

    Praying for you and your loved ones this morning. I too lost my Mum this year (end of March). Asking the Lord to be very near and dear to you during this season in your life.

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  42. Beautiful tribute, Anna Maria! I'm sure I would have loved your Mom, had I known her as a friend.

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  43. Anonymous10:59 AM

    I remember the post you made years ago about your mother teaching Bela to knit. In the photos from that post I recall that your mother smiled with her eyes even when her mouth wasn't so doing. It's an inner smile - one of the peace and contentment of God.

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  44. May you find some peace. My own boys were the only thing than pulled me through the death of my father. Such is the circle of life. Please take all of the time you need to be away from this space as you find a way to heal. So sorry for your loss.

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  45. what a beautiful Mother! May God remember her in His kingdom! May the Angels rejoice at her coming and may you be comforted... God bless and keep you.

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  46. Anonymous2:20 PM

    So beautiful, thank you for sharing. What an amazing and inspiring woman! I will continue to pray for you and your family.
    Melissa

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  47. My mom gave me my rocking chair, too. Thank you for giving me that memory today. I miss her.

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  48. This was a beautiful post and I so enjoyed getting to "meet" your mom through it. Now I see where so much of who you are comes from. Your mom sounds like an amazing gem of a woman. You are so blessed, and I see now even more why your grief must be so deep. May Christ continue to comfort you and your whole family. We are looking forward to baby news!

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  49. YOu do have the same smile! So sorry you had to lose your mom before this baby. It's never easy, but the hormones are a bitch! I still miss my Mumma & we lost her in '07. course I still missy my daddy & we lost him in '68. never ends...pain gets duller...

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  50. she was so beautiful - inside and out. and there is definitely a lot of her in you. lovetoyoumuch during this very sad time.xo

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  51. Your words are just so beautiful. So sorry for your loss and wishing you lots of comfort and love.

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  52. Such beautiful words about your mother, it brought tears to my eyes. I can't even imagine the place you are, but I'd like to offer sympathy and love to you and your family, and I'll hope for a little peace for you too.

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  53. how beautiful, and thankyou for reminding me how special my Mum is xxx

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  54. Wow! Thank you for sharing dear sweet mama! Loosing a loved one on the cusp of birthing is God's reminders of the bittersweet's in life, and to remind us all he is in control and loves us all !

    Many blessings,

    Samantha {Waldorf and Ragamuffin Dolls}

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  55. That was an exceptionally beautiful tribute to your mother.

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  56. so perfectly said. having had 5 preemie babies that each required nicu stays, i have a very healthy appreciation and respect for nurses who care for newborns. they truly are special people. your mother seems the cream of the crop! what a loss for you, but what a blessing, too. glad you are holding onto the gifts.

    you may not look so much like her, but you do have a similar countenance, of smiling from within, as you say, as evidenced by that last photo in particular. two very beautiful women. faith matters. character matters. best beauty secrets ever.

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  57. follow you anna :) Perfect..

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  58. "towards her." i love that. how simply true. your strength amazes me. xo

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  59. Anna,

    It's been a while since I stopped in. I didn't know you were having another baby and I certainly didn't know you lost your mother. I learned everything about sewing while living with a mom who could have sewed professionally. She made all our clothes, slipcovers, bridal gowns (with trains!!!!). I didn't sew then but took it up later in life and called it my own. But it was hers, I know that now. I lost her last July and she is with me every night when I turn on my machine. Yours will be with you the first time you pick your new babe up.

    Peace and love,
    Colleen

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  60. Sending you loving peace filled thoughts during this time.

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  61. Anonymous4:30 PM

    So sorry to read of your loss. Praying that with every breath you breathe in grace and continue to see the love and generosity of your mother in early morning sun streaming to land on your kitchen table, or a spool of thread as you take it in your hands, or in the laugh of your children......blessings.

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  62. Sending you love and light. Into each life a little rain must fall... praying for you and your family.

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  63. Anonymous3:58 PM

    This, and the post of you taking Juliana to college, strike so many heart-chords. You articulate that which is almost impossible to put into words.

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  64. So sad for you loss Anna. Your tribute to her is so loving and heartfelt, thank you for sharing. I lost my mom when I was just 25 (too young imo) but I had the support of family, friends and a loving God who promised to be EVERYTHING to me from thay day forward so I was able to endure the tremendous loss. it has nearly been 17 years and I still long for her presence. interesting thing is that I look JUST like her. always have and most likely always will. My dad (who I lost when I was just 9), called me Little Jo bec my mom's name was Josephine. I used to always want to look like myself and not her but since she has been gone, and every time I hear how much I.look like her, it makes me smile inside and I graciously say thank you because she was a beautiful woman inside and out. May you always hold your fond memories of your mom close to your heart and take comfort in the legacy she left y'all.

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  65. I am so very very sorry to read of your Mother's passing. She was a good, loving woman.

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  66. I am so sorry for your loss. But what precious, precious words that you have written for her. So sweet.

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  68. Erica Collins11:12 AM

    That last picture is amazing. Just absolutely perfect.
    Love you bunches.
    Erica

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