Remembering My Other Mom

SunsetThe world is a colder, meaner place now, for a brilliant light has dimmed forever. That light, Mrs. Ester Cousins, came to an end at the end of February, and the extended family has reeled ever since. Mrs. Cousins, or “Ma” as I came to call her, was a rail-thin woman who faced and overcame horrific tragedies that struck her immediate family, and in doing so her displays of inner strength utterly contradicted any image of weakness her wispy frame would otherwise imply.

Ma was a mother, a sister, a cousin, an aunt, a grandmother, and far, far more to dozens of others. By definition, she was my mother-in-law, but to me, she came to be like a second mother. She always had a ready ear and words of encouragement or advice, and she always stood ready to help others in any way that she could. I will not try to relate all the different ways and times in which she helped, counseled, or literally saved the day. Hers was a life of fantastic highs and crushing lows, yet she never lashed out or uttered a negative word or complaint. Not once. No, she conquered pain with kindness, and she overcame viciousness with love.

Mrs. Cousins was many things to scores of people. She was a light in the darkness. She was a warm fire on a cold day. She was a guide through a wilderness. Ma was the kindest, most giving person I have ever known. Her gifts to others have not ended with her passing, for the greatest thing she gave to others was her love and her wisdom, and as long as the loving words she spoke and the heartfelt lessons she taught are remembered, she will live on forever in the hearts and minds of those who knew her. 

It is extraordinarily hard to walk past her room now. Every morning I would ask how she felt, and every time she would say “so-so” in response. That pattern would go on for years and years, but just one day prior to her passing she said, “Okay.” I was stunned. She smiled, happy with the verbal curveball she threw. Neither of us knew the end of her time on Earth was fast approaching.

Her room was dark and silent for many days after her passing, then we decided to recreate it in a way that would honor her. Ma’s room now holds a large table, chairs, family albums, a computer, and it will soon hold row upon row of books. She always fostered a sense of unity among us, and she always stressed the need for continued learning and personal growth. Accordingly, Ma’s room is now an education-focused family room, and we believe our choice to remake the space would meet her approval.

You are sorely missed and truly loved by all who knew you, Ma. Thank you for all you did to better the lives of others.

-Keith V.


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