Remembering Mom: The Smell of her Lipstick

Last week as I looked forward to spending Mother’s Day with my boys, I thought about those who no longer have their moms.  What is Mother’s Day like for them?

I reached out to three friends who lost their mothers as young women and asked if they’d be interested in writing about their moms on my blog.

I’d love to!  She has been on my mind lately.

I would love to share about my mum…will be emotional but wonderful at the same time.

I’d be honoured!

So after a teary editing session, here is the first of three stories to be shared this week.


Cynthia Darby Maxwell

I chose this photo because it shows three generations of my family, and my Mom during one of the happiest times of her life.


I remember the smell of her lipstick and perfume, the way her scarf was soft and warm on my face.  

My mom used to kiss me goodbye every time I left the house. She would hold my face in her hands and kiss me quickly as I squirmed to get free… saying, “I love you, see you soon.”

She was a single parent to my brother and I.  We were definitely not the easiest of children. My brother had special needs and my mom had to work hard to support him through his education. She had taken thalidomide during her pregnancy and was determined that Andrew would never be at a disadvantage because of it. She wasn’t a feisty advocate.  She was supportive, persistent and involved.

My mom always said that we could do anything we wanted, anything we set our minds to. She valued education and went back to university when I was ten to finish her degree in Geography. Unfortunately, the year she graduated there were no jobs in education.  For every trial and tribulation, my mom would persevere. She’d just pick herself up and move on, never looking back.

My mom fought a 20 year battle with cancer. She was incredible, never losing faith that things would work out. She believed in the people taking care of her and never said why me. When we first found out, she was strong and invincible, and I fell apart. She held me up.  

She had such dignity. Nurses and doctors were always commenting on how lovely she was.  She was kind and polite, even when she was feeling poorly. She would never let someone else feel her pain.

I watched her strength dwindle and wane.  She leaned harder on me. I was so proud to be her daughter, to look on as she fought hard to stay with us.  She waited so long to see us safely into the world without her. I had to tell her it was okay to go, that I would take care of Andrew, that I would be okay. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do… but my mom would have done it for me.

She was my everything.  I miss her every day.


Each night, my mom would gather me into my bed, read me a book, tell me stories and sing to me. The day would just drift away.  She’d brush my hair oh so gently off my forehead and kiss me saying, “Goodnight and God Bless” as she turned off the light and slipped down the hall.


Writer’s Note: This piece was written by Cynthia’s daughter, Aynsley.  Aynsley and I met each other through work about six years ago.  In those six years, it’s hard to think of a conversation with Ayns that hasn’t included a special anecdote or memory of her Mom.  It’s been 15 years since she lost her Mom and she is still very much a part of her life.  

Ayns, I know this wasn’t easy to write.  Thank you.


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