The Power of Affirmation: A Daughter's Journey with Her Mother

The profound impact of affirmation unfolds as a daughter cares for her ailing mother, revealing deep spiritual lessons.

Through the lens of affirmation, a daughter's bond with her ailing mother reveals unexpected spiritual insights.

Life's Intertwined Challenges

After my Father died, my Mother came to live near us. She had suffered a massive stroke some years before and though her mind remained sharp as a tack, her body required constant care. At that time, my life was filled with the ordinary cares and duties of a householder—work responsibilities, family obligations, and maintaining a core of sanity with spiritual practice and as much self-care as I could muster. I was, like many at this juncture in life, juggling. I loved her dearly, yet I was about to sink under the additional responsibility of supporting her.



Making the Right Choice

That tiny window of time for a daughter and her mother near the end of her life was rich with spiritual gifts that still shine for me today. On one occasion, I was beside myself considering the choices we should make for her care. She asked me why I was troubled. I said, “I’m concerned because I want to make the right choice.” She looked straight at me, her eyes ablaze within the tiny frame of her physical body in the wheelchair, and she replied, “You always make the right choice.”

I was stunned by her words. I knew it wasn’t true. Or was it? Obviously, I had made many mistakes fueled by misguided choices. What was she talking about? This choice I was about to make would affect her life—it would determine where she would live and how she would receive care. How could she say that?

"Some lessons

from our mothers

arrive years later

with an aftertaste."

—Ellen Grace O'Brian, The Taste

The Transformative Power of Affirmation

When I look back, I can see it was always her way. Affirm. Bring out self-confidence and strength. It’s a gift of love when our mother sees into our heart of basic goodness and affirms, “I know you will do the right thing.” The heart hears and we rise.

The Taste

Winter morning on the coast

sip of steaming coffee

fog clears, sunlight

breaks through tree ferns.

I remember the first taste

of coffee, as a girl

asking, when

will I be old enough?

You said, whenever you want it

without milk or sugar.

Black became the real thing,

lifelong love affair

with something bitter

that hints of sweet.

I think of you

your life,

its blows,

your smile.

Oh, I miss you

like a taste

like heat

like bitter

like sweet

Some lessons

from our mothers

arrive years later

with an aftertaste.

– Ellen Grace O’Brian, The Moon Reminded Me

a framed photograph of a woman and her book


the Moon Reminded Me book of spiritual poetry cover


The Moon Reminded Me

In her luminous poems, Ellen Grace O’Brian manages to braid contemporary moments of everyday life with ancient spiritual teachings—the sight of a hummingbird’s red throat, bread on the table, a couple’s quarrel, a mother’s advice—become doorways into the divine mystical heart.

The Moon Reminded Me, subtly laced with Sanskrit, gives us an insight into a poet who bridges two worlds eloquently enough to take us along with her. Sandhya, the numinous time for stepping into the temple, suddenly becomes this moment, now.

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