Sunday, May 14, 2017

Dream Come True

Mum in black and white on the right, circa late 1940s
Me in colour on the left (2 pics), circa late 1970s

As Jackie mentioned in her lovely tribute to her beautiful mother (see previous post), we both not only have in recent years mourned our beloved mothers but we've been so profoundly blessed to have had such strong and loving relationships with them throughout our lives. As we write and reminisce over our childhoods, our words and experiences attest that our earliest journeys were so deeply intertwined with our mothers—their compassion, wisdom, charm, humour and sense of adventure follows and guides us wherever we go.

As anyone who has lost a family member will know, grief is a daily battle but love doesn't die; it just seems to grow. My mother's influence in my life is as vibrant now as it has ever been.

My mother Susee, as a student nurse (and midwife) in India 1961

Ever since I was a kid, I longed for a photograph of my beloved mother as a little girl.

To have just one glimpse of her in childhood would have made my life. Of course, we had wonderful and iconic photographs of my mother during her teens and twenties but never one from her girlhood. Amid my desperate pleas, Mum would often lovingly console me:

"Not everyone had cameras back then, Amma (daughter). That's just how those days were."

Flash forward to October 2016: an inconspicuous visit by a family member living in the U.S. to an old friend, paved the way for my lifelong dream to come true.

Mum, circa 1947
At the home of his friend, my uncle stumbled upon an old black and white school photo circa 1947. As school photos go, it was standard fare with rows of neatly groomed teachers and students in classic school day poses. As my uncle searched for familiar faces, the sweet-faced little girl at the bottom of the photograph made him stop in his tracks. My uncle excitedly exclaimed:

"I remember that little face."

His old friend as it turned out was one of my mother's former teachers from her Adventist alma mater in India during the late 1940s. This retired school teacher had the holy grail that I had spent four decades looking for.

My uncle, kindly made a copy and sent the priceless photograph to my dumbfounded family.

My brother, father and I wept tears of joy, and in one instant: felt such deep and abiding love for (and from) my mother and relived the heartache and immediacy of her loss. It was such a powerful and unforgettable moment.

Mama Bear and her cubs
For me, receiving my mother's childhood photo was both a gift and a dream come true. An heirloom for the ages. It was like a message from my mother across time and space. I had spent decades praying, wishing and searching for her childhood photograph and it somehow found its way back to me—a year and a half after her passing.

Not only did I get to see what my mother looked like as a child but it confirmed what my mother always told me:

"I looked just like you did!"

She truly did. The photograph above leaves me speechless. A carbon copy of how I looked in kindergarten. It's as if I existed in a photograph thirty years before my time.

Best friends forever

My mother and I were so close. She was my best friend and the love of my life. It's as if heaven sent Mum back to me. I waited over four decades for my dream to come true. It was worth the wait.

Whenever Mother's Day approaches, there's always that pang—that gut-wrenching feeling that says: you're not here and I'm not done loving you or looking after you. It's that dance with grief and stability, that's so tough. But somehow, inexplicably, strength kicks in and you keep moving. It's that overwhelming feeling of love and being loved that gets you through. I wish this for everyone. Happy Mother's Day everyone.

And Happy Mother's Day Mama. Love you. 💗


  1. A beautiful and articulate tribute to your mother, Chelly. I have the same feelings about my mother, who passed away in 2003. I have faith we will be reunited when our time on this earth is done.

    1. Aw thank you so much Lazlo. What a beautiful comment. I'm so sorry about your Mom. Loved your tribute to her on your blog. I have faith we'll be reunited when our time on earth is done, too. Big hugs.

  2. Wow your mother was a wet nurse! Cool! My mother was a humble daycare teacher but they are better respected in Europe, well in the past. :)I don't know about now.
    Anyways, glad you found that ultra rare pic of your mother. Loved the story article tribute. There is nothing like the family story behind the picture and the find of the pic it self and the journey it took you to get it. Probably like a Christmas morning when some of your other family members realization. Over all bitter sweat.
    As I said before we had a nice pic of my uncle when he was a boy but due to unfortunate circumstances that ultra rare pic was destroyed and no one in our family has another. But then there's always hope for a miracle. :) Hugs!

    1. Wow, your mother was a daycare teacher! That's so cool and such an important and thankless job. Bravo to her. Thank you so much for your beautiful comment Tina. It means so much. It was just like Christmas morning when we received the pic. I couldn't believe it. I still can't. I was gobsmacked. I hope you one day can find that precious photo of your uncle. Big hugs my friend! :)


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