From the September 2011 magazine.

A Letter to My Mother

Years after her mother's death, she was able to reconcile with her through a Ninth Step amends

"When I came into her hospital room, she was sitting up in a chair, smiling at me."

In 1998, my 75-year-old mother was stricken with a rare and aggressive form of bone cancer. Mother had always been a healthy, active individual who met life's challenges courageously. Despite her occasional expressions of concern about my heavy drinking, we were very close, and as soon as we learned the seriousness of her illness, I called my brother in Nebraska, packed my 1.75 liter bottle of scotch (Mother lived in a dry county), and rushed to her side.

Almost immediately, we butted heads. Mother was determined to remain independent despite her terrible pain; I was equally determined to "fix" her by cooking, cleaning, and taking over her household. One night when I tried to serve her yet another plate of food she didn't want, she snapped at me, burst into tears and fled to her bedroom. That was the first time I realized that my strong, healthy mother was very ill and very afraid. I immediately apologized to her, and we exchanged tearful hugs. But when she went to sleep that night, my fear sent me repeatedly to that bottle of scotch in the kitchen as I tried to drown the reality that I losing her.

-- Nancy S.

Dallas, Texas

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