Legacy of Love

My mother is in palliative care. She’s 96 and has declined significantly both cognitively and physically in the last few years – Covid was especially difficult with all the protocols and isolation involved. Almost three weeks ago, Mom had a fall in the middle of the night that resulted in a hip fracture and a gigantic decline in her health. I visit every day although I don’t really know if she knows I’m there. However, we are taking comfort from the fact that she is in excellent hands and we all hope for a peaceful end.

As Mom’s executor, I’ve been filling in the hours going through various files and boxes. Today I pulled out a folder labelled memories and discovered letters, cards and pictures from her grandchildren written at various ages plus a bundle of cards and letters held together by two elastic bands. Most of these letters were sent by me including quite a few from the years when Ian and I lived in Hong Kong. Mom loved getting what she called ‘real mail’.

Tucked into that bundle of letters was an envelope with the single word ‘Love’ on the front. I extracted a card featuring a lake glowing in the pink of sunset and looked inside.

At some time, Mom must have found this poem particularly meaningful. Did she mean to send it to someone? Or just keep it for reflection? I’ll never know.

Love is the filling from one’s own another’s cup

Love is the daily laying down and taking up

A choosing of the stony path through each new day

That other feet may tread at ease the smoother way

Love is not blind, but looks abroad through other’s eyes

And asks not, “Must I give?” but “May I sacrifice?”

Love hides its griefs, that other hearts and lips may sing

And burdened walks, that other lives may buoyant wing

I wasn’t able to find the name of the poet – one source said it was anonymous – but I did discover two more lines which my mother did not include. And of course, I wonder why she made that choice. Perhaps she wrote the poem in remembrance of one of the four men in her life – definitely a story waiting to be told – and was overwhelmed by emotion?

However, I feel that Mom lived much of her life in accordance with this philosophy. She is indeed a special woman.


M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel is THE ADMIRAL’S WIFE, a dual timeline set in Hong Kong. Mary’s other novels, PARIS IN RUINS, TIME AND REGRET, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from AmazonNookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

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The historical fiction author behind A Writer of History...

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18 Responses

  1. What a lovely tribute to your dear mother, Mary. These are difficult times and you are in my thoughts.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this poem and allowing us into a such a personal time with you and your mother, the woman who brought you into this world. Now it is your turn to help her leave it, surrounded in dignity and love.

  3. A beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman. I know how incredibly hard this time can be, and hope the next days and weeks are full of warm memories. You and your mother are in my thoughts.

  4. Mary, what a beautiful posting about your Mom. Having a glimpse of the memories she chose to hang on to also helps you walk with her as she travels this final road. Holding you all close in our thoughts as you support your Mom through the coming days, during what we know is one of the most poignant of journeys.

  5. Hi. I’m such a fan of your historical fiction, especially Time and Regret. I truly relate to your current circumstance with your mother. I lost mine a few years ago; thankfully it was just before COVID. She wouldn’t have been able to cope, the isolation, the restrictions, the fear. Mom had been physically fragile for a long time, but her mind was a vault of memories about everyone that mattered in my life. I hope you can discover more of her memories and you sort through your mother’s vault.

  6. I remember reading a post you wrote about your lovely
    mother some years ago and thought that I’d love to read
    more about her! What a lovely poem.

    1. Many thanks, Margaret. I appreciate your thoughts. Mom passed away on Feb 24th. I was with her to the end.

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