The relationship between a mother and a daughter is an interesting and fascinating dynamic. The bonds which hold this intimate tapestry together are often the strong sometimes coarse woven threads of love and devotion as well as spirited disagreement. It is good that these connections that tie these two generations together are tough and well knotted because in the course of events relations can get strained. Mothers and daughters can be fiercely protective of each other. However, this powerful dynamic can also be transformed into a clash, which is a mighty one.

I say these things because life is not some simplistic black and white scenario. I also state these observations because when you witness the full measure of loyalty and devotion of a daughter under often trying circumstances it is a wonder to behold. The daughter I speak of is my sister, Maureen. For many years she gave an unconditional and unquestioned amount of love and care to our Mom. When Mom passed away last summer just on the cusp of 93 years old, a large part of her longevity was attributable to Maureen’s care for Mom.

Our Mom was a wonderful person, full of Christian compassion and charity. She was, as I noted above, a fierce protectoress as well as a firm bulwark of strength and faith for our family. However, and this would be by Mom’s own admission, she could be a ‘pip’ to say the least. Often, her impassioned approach on a subject would be akin to ‘my way or the highway’. Now, many times Mom’s approach was correct. There are times when something is either right or wrong. However, there were also more than a few times when a particular subject would require a more nuanced perspective, the ability to see the other side of the issue or even that there was no ‘one answer’ to the question. It could be infuriating when Mom dug her heels in and refused to budge.

There were episodes when that kind of intransigence came to the fore with Mom’s healthcare. She would battle against certain medications or courses of action that were meant to help her. To be fair, at certain moments Mom’s feistiness could have been borne out of fear at yet another hospital stay or just being jabbed once too often by yet another needle for a blood test.

The thing is about Maureen is that she stuck with Mom through those doctor visits, hospital stays and Mom’s recuperations at her home without wavering. For the most part, Mom certainly did appreciate Maureen’s efforts. But there were times, difficult times, when fear, emotion, anger, anxiety and misgivings would well up into a whipped up fury and Maureen would bear the brunt of Mom’s anguish. Maureen never folded. She might have had to retreat for a well deserved evening’s respite in order to heal some psychic wounds (and replenish her exhausted strength). However, the next day Maureen would be back ‘at her post’ be the hospital ward or getting Mom out of bed and fed, etc. Her focus was fixed. Maureen would weather the emotional outburst and sail ahead.

Today (August 22nd) is my sister’s birthday. I can’t think of a better gift than to recognize Maureen for all the sacrifices she made for Mom. Now Maureen would prefer that her efforts would be kept ‘under the radar. However, I think that people need to know of this daughter’s devotion because it can serve as an inspiration for others. Maureen gave the same unconditional love that she learned from Mom. It is quite fitting that the name Mom and Dad gave my sister mean’s ‘Little Mary’ in Gaelic. For so many years Maureen was precisely like a ‘Little Mary’ in the biggest and most loving of ways.

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