Magnolias for Isobel


Isobel, who lives in London and writes her blog Isobelandcat, just experienced the death of her mother. It is so hard losing a mother – even when she has lived a very long and full life or when it is a blessing because of disease.

My mother died about 5 years ago after a long, slow, painful bout of pancreatic cancer. Over months I watched her waste away. She lived in Florida and I lived in Michigan so I couldn’t see her often. I went a few times during the summer when I didn’t have to teach. But with my fibromyalgia I couldn’t go often enough or stay long enough – the travel and the stress took its toll on my body. When I would leave their house for the airport, when I was alone in the car, I would sob.


She died in March when I had a teaching load. I wanted to be with her, I wanted to stroke her face, hold her hand, whisper loving things in her ear. I was so thankful her husband loved her and was lovingly caring for her with the help of Hospice but I also resented him. He was doing what I wanted to do.

I wanted to be with her but no one could predict when she would die. I couldn’t take a lot of time off because someone else would have had to cover my classes. They said it could be a few day and it could be longer – and then the funeral. Her husband and his family said it was better that I wasn’t there at the end – but my mother and I knew each other from before I was born. I had a right to be there. I should have been there. I still miss her, but I haven’t been able to get over the deep regret that I wasn’t able to nurture her as she left this life. I think she would have liked me to be there.


Isobel wrote about her experience as she watched her mother slip away over months, weeks, days, hours. She shared her journey with a style of writing that is elegant, honest, and graceful. I understood her journey because I had very similar feelings, very similar needs. She was able to love her mother out of this life and into what her mother’s faith assured her would be a better eternity.


Emotionally I walked with Isobel. I think reading about her experience, how she was doing what I had wanted to do for my mother, helped me to vicariously nurture my mother in her time of dying. I am feeling some peace – and I know what I need to do to heal this wound. I do that kind of healing when I am alone.


Thank you, Isobel, for being honest and for sharing your journey so beautifully. You are one classy lady and I am very glad I have had the pleasure of your company as we have gotten to know each other through our blogging. These flowers are for you in your time of grief and to honor your mother’s life.


If you would like to read about Isobel’s journey, you can click here. I’m feeling a little uneasy posting this link but blogs are, of course, public. Even so, my urge is to ask you to please be respectful – isn’t blogging a strange experience.

32 thoughts on “Magnolias for Isobel

      • Haven’t felt good for a couple of weeks. Have been enjoying your blog! At least that cheers me up. By the way thanks for bringing warm weather back with you!


        • Sorry it took a couple of weeks for the warmth to follow. I was pouting for a while but sure enjoying the flowers now.


  1. Your words are comforting since I went through the same journey not too long ago. I cried every night for… until one night my mother came to my dream… Beautiful post, Pat.


    • Thanks, Amy. It sounds like your mom knew how to comfort you – and you can still feel that comfort. You must have some very special memories.


      • Even the small things she did and said come to my mind all the time. You’re right, they become even more special as days go by.


  2. Pat, you and Isobel just made a journey that most of us have to do in our lives. My parents both already moved on to a better life without pain. we just have to work through our pain and that is not always a pleasant journey, but as one gets closer to the destiny, don’t know if we ever get there, the pain gets less and the remeberance of all the good times get bigger and more colourful, until we even can laugh about the less beautiful times. Thanks to both of you for the courage to share your thoughts (and a bit of the pain) and write about it so that all your readers can just realize again what it is to be still alive and to be human……. we are allowed to cry as much as needed…… that cleanses the soul.


  3. Beautiful flowers and a well-written post for your blogging friend. Glad that her post helped you to deal with your unresolved pain…that’s what blogging is all about, isn’t it?


  4. Thanks Pat. This post moved me to tears, and I am so glad that my experience has helped heal your hurt a little. I bought my parents a magnolia tree. I say my parents. It was my mother who really wanted one, and so these flowers are particularly apt. My father died in the middle of April and I chose a spray of blossom for his coffin. So your instincts were true.
    Any of my friends and family reading that I am a classy lady, are probably laughing right now. It is not an adjective I have applied to me!


    • Well, I think you can wear your new title with pride. I understand not acting with class as in nobility class, but within our spirits we can have class. My husband says I’m crusty, a little rough around the edges, maybe salty. But that just says we hold our own when the going gets rough – and I call that classy. Putting on airs is such a bore. 🙂


  5. I am so sorry that you couldn`t have had more time with your mother at the end. I think that is what helped me be so at peace when my mother passed away. I could see how difficult it was for her to go on living. Death was a release.


  6. What a beautiful and touching post… this has been a difficult year in my family too losing two wonderful parts of our life and your expression of emotion is heartfelt and genuine. Your Magnolia photos are perfect…I love them.


    • Thanks. I enjoyed photographing the magnolias and they seem so right for Isobel. And I think I feel tender but genuine right now. I appreciate your understanding.


    • Thanks. I enjoyed photographing the magnolias and they seem so right for Isobel. And I think I feel tender but genuine right now. Isobel’s story has been tender and genuine and I think how we behave rubs off on other people. I appreciate your understanding.


    • Thanks for your note, Charlie. It seems like the rawness is exposed every so often but there is a little more healing each time it does.


  7. Beautiful flowers for today’s post.
    May Isobel’s mother rest in peace. And – may your mom continue to resp in peace too.


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