Ten years ago this week our priest called and asked if I would say a few words about mother/daughter relationships at Church on Mother’s Day. I decided I wanted people to hear who my mother had been in her own words. I went out to the garage, took down the cardboard moving box my husband had labeled “Letters from Madelyn” and started reading.

The box was full of letters wonderful letters Mom had written over the course of nearly seven years, but I was looking for one particular letter she had written during an especially difficult time in both of our lives. I was single at the time, but I had two wonderful girlfriends who would come over with a bottle of wine (or a carton of ice cream) whenever I got a new letter and I would read it out loud.

This is an excerpt from the letter that started it all:

“Dear Elaine,
As an old lady I’m here to tell anyone who will listen that life is not made up doing what you want to do! When I look back over my life, it is hard to see what I have done just for myself . . . I can’t see anything so wonderfully exciting or invigorating about getting up in the morning, fixing breakfast, doing dishes, making the bed, picking up the papers doing laundry, fixing lunch, doing dishes, and then doing more laundry and more housework.

An exciting day for me might include a good telephone conversation or possibly meeting an interesting person in the grocery store or on the street. And for this I should take vitamins! I should try to eat right and exercise so I can prolong this wonderful life experience? HA!!! . . .

My greatest joy in life comes from learning and growing mentally and spiritually. The thing about having your space and happiness from within is that a person can stay more or less detached and still do what has to be done to give other people a reasonable amount of happiness.”

In time Mom’s “detached attitude” morphed into what she called an “Attitude of Creative Indifference”, which is essentially the practice of not allowing yourself to become emotionally ravaged by events or the progression of the disease.

Come back tomorrow and I’ll share a very special Mother’s Day message from my mom.