Mothers Never Leave Us Even When They Are Gone

Fifteen years ago in a darkened hospital room, I held my mother’s frail hand and gently whispered in her ear how she was the love of my life, that I was going to tell her story, that I would write her story, our story and I kept that promise. When I lost my mother Betty 15 years ago, I found my voice and I used my words in ways I hadn’t before.

In 2008 when she died, my virtual footprint was surprisingly faint. Not only did I not have a website, I didn’t tweet, wasn’t on Facebook, and had only recently chosen to sign up with Myspace instead. Clearly, my underdeveloped social radar was way off on that decision. Committed to my Blackberry I wouldn’t get an iPhone for another 2 years.

Four years later I would start this blog and on it I would from time to time share her stories, introducing Betty to a wider audience. My childhood posts were often among my most read and beloved. Now her image has been liked on Instagram, her words shared on Facebook, and her anecdotes tweeted.  Her stories have been widely read online.  None of these venues would be comprehensible to my very Luddite mother.

There is a symbiosis to this. It was my mother who encouraged my storytelling skills as a very little girl. Along with playing the sing-song game “A my name is Alice and I come from Alabama and I sell Apples” a favorite pastime of ours was what she called “Continuation Story.” The aim of the game was to create a complete story between the two of us. Each would contribute a few sentences and then move on to the next person before a complete story would evolve over time.


Pool side from 1956 to 2008 Photos Sally Edelstein

Fifteen years.

It feels inconceivable that she has been gone that many years. It feels like five at the most. Perhaps “grief time” is like dog years, where each human year is approximately 5 years for an adult dog.

How could she be gone what amounts to my entire childhood plus 5 bonus years? When I turned 15 it felt as though I had lived an entire life. To arrive at that age seemed to have taken forever in the slow-motion way that childhood unfolds.

Now time moves at a mind-boggling accelerated speed, as it does for us all who are privileged to age.

Her beloved little grandchildren who played on her living room floor, have now not only gone to high school, they are both college graduates with careers of their own

It saddens me that she has not been here these many years to share in and kvell in my own accomplishments and my happiness, but secretly there is a part of me that is grateful that she has not been here to see my losses.

So much mishegoss has transpired,  she wouldn’t begin to comprehend. I would have wanted to protect her from all that, as strongly as the feeling of also wishing she were still here to have protected me.

But through the adversity, I drew on her considerable strength, the strength I absorbed from her and bubbled to the surface when needed. In a way, she was by my side.

The woman who gave me life entrusted me to know when it was time to end hers. It fell on my shoulders and at times, even still, the weight of it sags.

It was the honor of my life to have taken care of her final years. Without either of us knowing it, it was her final gift.

Her story ended in April 2008, but the continuation story continues with me.

© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.




  1. What a warm and moving tribute. I hope that the memories are comforting in the difficult days; I know that Betty’s life was a blessing that will last forever. Thank you for sharing this. The pictures and your tender words tell a wonderful love story.


  2. tripichick

    I was the youngest of mom’s 11 pregnancies. She birthed six, lost her first to meningitis then raised me and two sibs alone after dad had his MI. She gave me two concussions the year I got pregnant when a dude splooged on my jeans.


  3. My mom, also named Betty, was an elementary school teacher for 45+ years. As such, she “strongly encouraged” me to write stories at a young age and to always record my feelings when they occurred. Later in my life, this became journaling, something which I constantly strive to be better at. Our moms formed the bedrock on which we developed. That you can still draw on her strength and wisdom years after her passing, is a testament both to her and the daughter she raised. Blessings to you Sally, for this heartfelt tribute.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so glad you too had a mother who was encouraging of you to write and express yourself. That is such a fundamental blessing and gift that should never be taken for granted. The older I get the more I am appreciative of all my own mother gave me which I do draw on now.


  4. ellie berner

    I think I know Betty through you..her i.ndividual spirit and style, her engagement with the world and those near to her. Betty’s warm spirit comes tfhrough in your writings She is with you in the wisdom she imparted to protect you from life’s difficulties as well as to share and take joy in your successes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Ellie, for your touching and beautiful remarks which are very very meaningful to me. No matter our age, nor how long they have been gone, each one of us misses our own beloved mothers, this most profound person in our lives.


  5. ellie bernr

    You’re right, Sally. The imprint of our mothers is profound. Every time someone thanks me for a kindness, I whisper, “it’s my mom.” She informs me still.

    Liked by 1 person

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