My mother, who truly sees every sunrise

This morning, the first email in my inbox was from my mom. It had a photo attachment of the sunrise (taken with her trusty iPad) with the the subject line of “Good morning all!” In the body it simply said, “Beautiful sunrise this morning! Have a great day!” 



She sent this to me and to a few other family members, and this is pretty typical of my mom. Not a week goes by when I don’t receive at least three emails from my mom, showcasing the sunrise or sunset from her porches. They are always brief messages with a simple but stunning photo attached, concise and to the point. “Have a great day!” “The sunset was beautiful tonight.” “Gorgeous sky this morning.”  

My mom is an amazing woman, and I don’t usually give her enough credit. She finds delight and contentment in the simple and smallest aspects of life. Playing in the pool with her grandchildren. Making heart-shaped pancakes for her daughter. Taking a ride down a country road. Watching fireflies dance in the field. Curling up in a cozy chair on a rainy afternoon to watch Lifetime movies. Watching the sunset. Listening to Patsy Cline. Holding hands with my dad. 

Mom and wildflowers

Mom “borrowing” wildflowers

Mom isn’t caught up in the matters of the world. She doesn’t care about the brands she wears (other than her Dansko shoes!) or the car she drives (as long as it gets her to the out-of-place destinations she seek). She’s happiest at home, watching her grandchildren grow and her fountains bubble. The joy she feels when all of her children and grandchildren gather together emanates from her and fills the space with love. Despite her busyness in making sure that everyone has what they need, she is completely at ease and couldn’t be happier. She gives all of herself to make others happy, and we all know that we can turn to her whenever we are in need. In need of love. Support. Advice. A stern talking to. A recipe from our childhood. A friend to drink wine with. A warm embrace to ease our tears. In need of anything at all. 

People mean more to my mom than stuff to my mom. She’s driven by relationships and personal connections, not the accumulation of things. As my aunt recently said, “She’s also the center of the universe.” And, sometimes, I believe that she is. She seems to know EVERYONE. Even living 650 miles away from her, I still meet people who know her or know someone who knows her. Recently, my husband was elk hunting in Montana. A hunter at a nearby camp killed a huge trophy elk. Who was he? One of my mother’s customers. Growing up, I hated her connections because we couldn’t get away with anything at all. But, now, I miss them. I miss meeting people and introducing myself as her daughter and having them tell me how wonderful she is. Because she is. I used to laugh at the cliche of “giving the shirt off your back,” but I recently realized that my mother embodies this. She works so hard to prioritize the happiness of others. 

Each year, my family — cousins, aunts, uncles, second cousins, third cousins once removed, people I’m related to but have never actually met — gather together to celebrate the history of our family. My mother calls it our memory walk. We meet at the site of my grandmother’s childhood property and, armed with backpacks full of Twizzlers and caramel cremes and pretzels, we walk three miles along the dirt road where she and her sisters and brothers grew up. At some point along the walk, an ice cream truck appears (and this is in an area where ice cream trucks just don’t happen. We’re talking COUNTRY.) and hands out free ice cream to everyone. One year, a horse and carriage arrived to carry my grandmother, grandfather, and great-aunt down the steep part of the hill. Every year, near the end, there is a bottle or two of champagne hidden in a cold creek which is used to toast our families. And, after the walk, everyone gathers at Mom’s house for chili and snacks. My mom is the moving force behind all this, and she does it because she knows what joy it brings to everyone. 

chasing the ice cream truck

chasing the ice cream truck

My mom, simply put, is amazing.

She slows down to enjoy the world.

She watches the sunrise and set almost every day, taking time to absorb the beauty that surrounds her.

She appreciates every moment she has and makes every attempt to live her life in the moment without concern for what has happened or what will happen. She’s a “now” kinda gal.

She openly shows her love and affection to all who own a slice of her heart, and she does so without hope of or need for repayment.

She views the world with “what if” eyes, never afraid of the potential pitfalls and risks. 

I wish I could be more like her. 




  1. When your mom dropped me off at the Ithaca airport recently, she said, “if you see a girl with curly hair working at the cafe, tell her Sylvia says ‘hello!'” OF COURSE your mother knows the woman working in the cafe in the Ithaca airport, why wouldn’t she!? Sure enough, she was working and had wonderful things to say about your mother.

  2. I don’t think I could have survived the past three weeks without her. She’s the busiest person I know, yet has the most time for everyone.

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  4. Mary, I would call you but I wouldn’t be able not to cry. I guess sometimes I didn’t realize how you feel about me. I no you love me but your memories of me make me so happy. You’ve seen me not not at my best more times than I would like to remember, so when you say such nice things about me I’m so touched. I love you more than words can say. Thank you for your sweet words. I would try to call you now but I’m still crying? Love ya! I just realized I’ve read this before but I loved it again!

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