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An Open Letter to My Mother
The Weight Loss Alphabet
The Story of Mother's Day
Soothing Sounds of Music
Teach Your Children Well
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"A mother understands what a child does not say."
— Arlene Benedict
For the last three years, for Mother's Day, I've published a letter I wrote to my mom... As many of you know, I lost my mother, far too
young, from cancer in 1998. She passed away with many things between us still unsaid. It's something I've thought
about a great deal over the last six and a half years.
I share this letter each year and many people have told me it's inspired them to call or write their moms... some
who had been out of touch for a very long time, or who had let a family issue come between them.
On this Mother's Day, I share it again with all of you. If you've lost someone — especially your mom,
I can assure you that such a process is very cathartic, and I don't believe it's ever too
late to say what needs to be said. If you still have your mother, let this be a wake up call.
Share your feelings; have that talk. You never
know when you might lose the chance to tell her in person...
Where do I start? It's not like I haven't talked to you... Since you've been gone, I find myself
looking at situations on a regular basis, looking toward heaven, and asking how you might handle
this. I never truly realized until after you'd gone, just how much your presence and nurturing
have influenced me. How much I have patterned my routine, and my relationships after you, and
all that you taught me.
For a lot of years I was disappointed in myself, and often managed to live down to that
self-expectation, but you never went anywhere. During those years, I'd lament that you could
never be proud of me. And if you ever were, I am sure I refused to let it in. But what has only
recently occurred to me is that I can't remember ever having told YOU that I was proud of you.
So let me do that now. I'm sure you're listening...
You were an amazing woman — holding everything together when Daddy was being moved around like
crazy for his job. Finding ways to make things work, feeding the family, making peace. You found
a way to take care of us all when there was no money. You were always the one who went without what
you needed so that we kids were provided for.
I have some amazing memories of my time growing up with you. On rainy days when there seemed to be
nothing to do, you'd open our little folding card table, and set up a game to play with us. When
we were little it was Chutes and Ladders or Candy Land, or Hi-Ho-Cherry-O. As
we got older, it was Clue, Life, or Sorry. It was great fun, and you never made
me feel that you were "babysitting" me. I always felt we were just enjoying being with one another.
You'd let me help with a big pan of brownies, or Rice-Krispie treats before we started playing, and
I found myself looking forward to the days when the weather was too poor to play outside with my
You were truly my best friend, though I doubt I ever told you. You taught me to color, (and
how colors react with each other — a color theory principle I use to this day in my work), and to
paint. You signed me up for a craft-club that sent everything needed once a month to create
something amazing... from a birdhouse or a music box, to a puppet, or a mail caddy. We'd work with
wood, paste, paints, stains, needle and thread... From the time I was small, you fostered in me a
sense of pride in a project done correctly, and made me believe I had talents and abilities. They
are times I will never forget.
You saw how difficult all the moves and making new friends was for me, and you stepped in to help.
You became a room-mother, a substitute teacher, and my Sunday School teacher. Always so I was not
alone, and the other children adored you. I got to be the "daughter of the cool lady", and it helped
more than you know.
You were so smart. I always knew I could come to you for answers about most anything. If you didn't
know, you'd find out. And when I'd come rushing home from school excited at some new piece of knowledge
I'd "discovered", you never made me feel it was less than a revelation! My inspiration to do well
in school was you, Mom. You always made the difference. There was a reason all my friends called you
You taught me to love words, and to explore where they could take me. Did you ever know I
admired you for the novel you wrote?
You made me love cooking, and taught me every basic. And even though I have since learned that many
of the things I cooked with you are wrong for my health and my body, I have taken those basic cooking
premises and used them to afford me creativity to make similar dishes in a low carb healthy fashion.
You were funny. You and Daddy had awesome senses of humor, and kept me smiling and laughing for as
many years as I had you. I loved it when your own stories would get the better of you, and you'd
burst into uncontrollable laughter as tears rolled down your cheeks. Or when we'd laugh ourselves
silly over some new situation Daddy found himself in.
One of my favorites... We were on a vacation, driving across the U.S., and had gone into a little
dinner for a late breakfast. It was you, and Daddy, me, and my sister Cindy, and brother, Wayne. When
we sat down, Daddy realized a gentleman a few tables over had only one arm. Fearing that one of us
kids (especially my little brother) would say something out loud about it, or that we'd stare, he
told us each in very hushed tones, "Now, do NOT stare at that man because he's missing an
arm. And please don't say anything... I mean it!" We went on with our meal and no one said
a word about the man. As we got up to leave and were filing past the man's table, the one-armed
man looked up at Daddy and said, "Good Morning." To which Daddy replied, "Good Arm."
I thought we'd laugh until we were sick once outside that restaurant. We'll never forget the frozen
look on Daddy's face.
As a child, I loved you dearly, but never understood that you were exceptional. It didn't occur to me
that not all mothers did the things you did. Not all mothers made Halloween Costumes from scratch,
and then joined their kids trick-or-treating. Not all mothers had wakes and funerals for every pet
goldfish or turtle that met their maker. Not all mothers decorated every room in the house for every
single holiday — even St. Patrick's Day. You even had extra gifts under the tree on January 1st because
"the New Years' Baby had brought them." I took you for granted.
As the years went by, and we kids made our way in the world, you watched me make mistake after mistake.
You'd say enough to provide your insight, but no more. And you were there to catch me when I'd fall.
Years later, as an adult, you were still rescuing me; still teaching me; still leading by example.
You were a shining influence for my own son, who continues to adore you and cherish everything he
ever got from you. You were a mother to him during times when I was barely able to keep my own
You didn't live to see me succeed, Mom. You didn't see me fly. I've done many of the things now that
I always wanted to do. Things I wanted to show you I could do. I've lost a lot of weight, Mom. I am
healthy now. I have wonderful people in my life who I love dearly. I have a career that I am good
at, and that keeps evolving with me. I'm doing so many of the things I always wanted to do.
And I have so many more plans. I am totally living my life now. I am, in short, finally the person
you dreamed for me.
There are times I find myself feeling regret that you didn't get the chance to know many of the wonderful
people in my life. When I mentioned to Neil one day that I wish you'd gotten to meet him; to know him, he
said, "She knows, Lora. She knows." And I know he's right.
You're in my heart and my thoughts every single day. I miss our time together
so much. And I wish I could have voiced my appreciation so long ago.
I love you. Thank you for everything. And Happy Mother's Day.
Copyright © May 2005 Lora Ruffner and Low Carb Luxury
Photography copyright © 2005 Neil Beaty.