My Mother, My Hero

It’s 5 a.m. and I cannot sleep. This has been the most uncomfortable night of my this pregnancy (my fourth), thus far. And due to the fact that yesterday was my “due date,” I’m hoping it will have been my last (or at least close to my last) uncomfortable night.

I’m a mixture of emotions. Anxious, nervous, excited, scared, and a little bit of crazy thrown in there too. You name it, I’ve been feeling it. I sit in wonder of how women can have so many children. I realize that four is a decent number, but when I think of those who have had so many more, I am in awe. I think of my own angel mother who endured seven pregnancies (eight including the one where she miscarried). She not only raised seven decent human beings (with a little help from my Dad), but she worked full time too. I feel like I still have so much to learn from her.

Last summer my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She and my dad had completed 2/3 of their full-time mission in Hong Kong when they needed to come home so that she could be treated. Needless to say, it was a whirlwind of events and emotions. They arrived home on a Saturday, and she was in surgery three days later. It was a very invasive surgery, with an extremely difficult recovery for her. Then she began chemotherapy in August. I’m not sure what was harder to watch her go through. That surgery, or the chemo that consistently weakened her.

It is hard to watch your loved ones go through something difficult.  This cancer tested my mom on all levels—physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. With all she has had to bear, she has done so without much complaining (she is human after all). But even then, her kind of “complaining” pales in comparison to all the complaining I have done over these last 40 weeks of my pregnancy, and this is not cancer that I’m dealing with!

Like I said, I still have so much to learn from her.

Awhile back, Olive unloaded our filing cabinet. She made a big mess, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise because we (Dave) finally were able to re-organized it. In doing so, we came across a family newsletter that I had started back in 2005. In the December issue,—having recently celebrated Thanksgiving—I had asked everyone what they were grateful for. Here’s what my mom wrote:

This year, I am particularly thankful for the knowledge of and the plan of salvation and our purpose here on earth and, of course, having the Gospel to help understand it. It is this knowledge that guides my life, and perhaps, always has. It helps me understand how to go forward and yet reflect back. It helps my feet know which direction to walk in life; my hands what things to do for myself and others; my head how to think clearly and prioritize things; and especially, my heart how to feel and forgive and to love. It puts in place the importance of my Savior, my family and others. It helps me look at all people and know they were a part of the two-thirds who voted with us and causes me to try harder to live both the first and second great commandments. It is this testimony of Heavenly Father and our Lord and the plan that helps me be grateful for life and EVERYTHING and EVERYONE else in it—including the challenges and struggles, as well as the many blessings I have, like my great family and patriarch who help me keep it all in perspective.

I love her outlook on life. She is amazing.

Here she is after a few weeks of chemo, when she decided to chop her hair off, knowing it would probably fall out anyway.

Here she is in November, mid-treatments and rockin’ the turban. Watch out Rachel Zoe!

Here she is most recently with her hair growing back in. We think she looks gorgeous, and very modern!

If you are lucky enough to know my mom, you know that she is a very kind, loving, and happy person. She thrives on serving others, but does it in such a quiet way that you don’t realize what she’s done for you until way after the fact. This is only one of the many things I have learned from her, and am still trying to incorporate it.

I want to be like my Mom when I grow up.

  1. Heather

    I want to be like her too.

    Wonderfully said, Holl.

  2. Natalie

    I really want to be like her too. Some people say that a man has a tendency to marry someone like his mom. That being said, I hope that James saw some potential in me to be like her. Those of you that have been blessed to have her as your mother, know how blessed I feel to have her as a mother-in-law. She is amazing in every way and a perfect example for me and my girls. Her testimony strengthens me. Her positive attitude inspires me. Her smile comforts me. Her selflessness amazes me. I love the man that she loved and raised that I was lucky enough to marry. I know that it would take a REALLY long time, but I hope that I can be like her someday too.

    Thanks Holly for writing this. You are such a gifted writer.

  3. Natalie

    P.S. She’s never looked more beautiful to me.

  4. jana

    still beautiful, inside and out.

  5. Beth

    Oh that made me cry. I love Sister Kewish. She was the greatest Sunday School teacher I ever had, at a difficult time in my life. You’re right. She serves so subtly, I never realized it until after the fact (when I was way more mature) how much I needed her at that time in my life. I’m so happy to see her smiling.

  6. Karolyn Mallea McNeal

    Although I have not seen the Mallea clan since the last reunion, I still feel very much a part of you and hopefully will be seeing you at the upcoming reunion this summer.

    The constant courage, strength, and possitivity exhibited by your wonderful Mother throughout this ordeal is an example that few can set. I believe everything happens for a reason whether it is to teach us or to help others learn from us. What a testimate to her tremendous faith – in God, in those who love her, and in herself. With loving thoughts and continue prayers. Kristen’s Mom.

  7. Melissa

    Holly, I just came across this post today, I don’t know why I missed it! I’ve been wondering how your mom has been doing, but didn’t know if it was something you wanted to talk about or not. She is a beautiful woman and did a fine job in raising you. We’re so lucky to have wonderful Moms, it makes all the difference, don’t you think? Miss you!!

  8. Holly

    Thank you everyone! I know I’m biased in thinking my Mom is the best, but it’s nice to read your comments about your love for her too!

  9. Charlotte Larsen

    I didn’t know your mom was going through that….Or your family for that matter, My heart goes out to you guy’s, Reading your sweet words about what you wrote about your mom touched me deeply. I lost my mom to the same cancer and have felt what you have experienced. it’s such a hard thing to go through…Your Mom is a fighter and is such a inspiring person, she has a big heart like her daughter. I wish I could give you a big HUG….If you ever need anything or need to talk I am here…

  10. Arlene Harker

    No, Holly you are not biased. You mom is the best! She is one of the dearest friends I’ve ever had and I love her. It saddens me to think what she is going through. Thank you for sharing and give her my love.


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