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Thinking of my Mom at Christmas

by Gail Mooney
December 23 2011

The last Christmas I spent with my mother was the Christmas of 2003. I didn’t know that would be our last Christmas together. She died very suddenly, less than two months later. I often wonder if I had known that Christmas was to be the last one that I’d spend with my mother, if I would have asked her the questions that I always wanted to ask. One thing I do remember about that Christmas was a moment during the evening when I caught a look in my mother’s face that I had seen before – a distant look where I felt as if she was somewhere else.

After my mother’s death, I learned a great deal about my mother – things I would have loved to have talked to her about. I was a perceptive and curious child, and there were always questions that I wanted to ask her, but I never did. I don’t know why. I could say that there was “never the right time” but I’ve grown to hate that expression or should I say excuse. I guess I was just too afraid.

I would not have been able to take the journey around the world with my daughter Erin and make this film if it hadn’t been for my mother. That’s why the name of the production company is Nola Productions, Nola was my mother’s name. When she died, she left me a bit of money and that helped finance Opening Our Eyes. That and airline miles, hotel points, crowd-funding and lots of help from my friends. But my mother gave me something even more important than money, that made this film happen. She gave me, belief in myself and compassion for others. If it hadn’t have been for my mom, I wouldn’t have had the desire to make a film that delivers the message, that we can all make a difference in how we choose to live our lives. And she always told me to believe in myself and my dreams and that anything was possible.

If you were to ask me (and many have) what was the best part of the trip – I’d would tell you that ii was spending time with my daughter. We not only explored the world together – we got to know each other as people – beyond the mother/daughter relationship. We’ll both remember the amazing places we went to and the extraordinary people that we met, but I think the memories that will linger the longest will be the conversations that we had along the way. We both asked the questions that we had been wanting to ask and shared the stories that we needed to share. Ultimately we “took the time” to get to know one another.

When I tell women about this trip and what I did with my daughter – they always say one of two things – or both – “Oh I would love to do that with my daughter” or “ I wish I had gotten to know my mother better”. I’m grateful that I had this time with my daughter and I know my mom was with us all the way. We couldn’t have done it without her.

Have a Merry Christmas everyone.

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3 Responses

  1. Gail,

    As per your usual, you and this story, have touched me in ways many cannot. I balled my eyes out, practically through the whole thing. I think that is mostly because many of us share these same feelings about our parents and our history. I know I do. Both my parents have passed now and with that the opportunity to share those conversations. As a father of two young son’s, I have made it a life’s mission never to leave those conversations undone. I, like you, want to leave a different legacy for them and their children, one of love, compassion, connection, and happiness. As the holiday is upon us, your story gives me more focus and clarity on the things that matter most in my life, that is, and always will be, the people. Thanks Gail for always stirring something inside of me. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday!

  2. Tina Gehrig

    A very touching story. My only aunt in this country died a year after I finished college at the age of 57. One important lesson I learned from took away from that experience – you never should wait to do those things that are important to you. I can’t say I have questions I haven’t asked my mother, but I have been learning to make all of her special dishes, cookies and cakes. As we make them, she tells stories of who she learned them from, her aunt and especially her mother, who I have always adored. We always laugh and say the Oma (grandma) is watching us (and she is probably laughing too – I remember her laugh most of all). Lucky for you, you have not waited to spend that kind of time with your daughter. She will always remember it too. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

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