Mother’s Day 2013 – You Don’t Know What You Got ‘Till It’s Gone

Alright sons and daughters, I know you’ve heard this a million times, but I’m going to say it again; there is nothing like the love a mother has for her children. Love her, appreciate her, and know that there is nothing like her love for you residing on this earth.

As you may or may not know, I lost my mother last June 6th (2012), and even though I knew she loved me more than anything else in her life, I now realize that I never actually knew how much love she had for me throughout my 30 year relationship with her, until it was gone.

It’s really almost impossible for any of us sons and daughters to truly understand that love. However, for those of you who still have your mom here on earth, you can honor it NOW, while there is still time!

When she was gone, it was that good ‘ole “It’s A Wonderful Life” lesson, that I had to learn for myself. Joni Mitchell’s song Big Yellow Taxi plays “You Don’t Know What You Got ‘Till It’s Gone” regularly in my head each day now, because those daily phone calls and visits with mom, aren’t there anymore.

These phone calls used to happen EVERY SINGLE DAY. That might sound weird to you, but we were so close. She’d call, sometimes to a welcome voice excited to talk to her and other times to a rushed, more impatient voice stuck in the hustle and bustle of the rat race we all live in.

Boy oh boy, would I give anything to get those phone calls back.

Now, a hole is in my heart. One that, while it is quite an enormous hole, it is a hole that His Holy Spirit has filled for me, in a way that has only brought me closer to Christ. What a blessing, from something that is easily perceived as a curse; losing my mother at the young age of 30, has brought me closer to Christ and shone through in my further FAITH in HIS WILL. His PERFECT plan.

My mother will never see Sofia (19 months old) grow up and go to her first day of school, nor will she ever meet her newest grandchild that is now a growing life inside of Yazmin’s belly, but you know what… she prepared me for all of it. As a father, as a husband, as a businessman… Stress doesn’t get me. I can handle it all just fine. She made me TOUGH and engrained PERSEVERANCE inside of me that gives me confidence to fight ANYTHING.

Whatever didn’t kill her, made her stronger. Thus, that which does not kill me… Well, you get the point.


This hung on our ‘fridge for years. It truly encompasses her FIGHT.

My mother was the toughest son-of-a-gun out there. Her passion was fitness. So she would study the best (Arnold) and take her game onto the training floor every day she could, despite the 3 days per week of dialysis treatments and other private woman-matters that she dealt with (ie. losing her hair), which I won’t get into any further except to say she made the best of it.

She had kidney disease from 1985, when I was three years old, pretty much until she turned to dust in June 2012. Two transplants and years and years of dialysis, kept her alive. The irony; kidney disease never killed her! Cancer did. When she was diagnosed with a new challenge in Ovarian Cancer in the fall of 2009, and it eventually won the war against her on June 6, 2012.

Some people have to face death for a week, maybe a year, maybe several years… My mom faced death for 27 years, and while it won the war against her, all of her triumphs in all of those battles yielded a great deal of fruit for her and everyone around her.

She was and IS STILL an inspiration.

Her typical week looked like this; Monday, Wednesday, and Friday were at the gym. She trained herself and a flurry of clients all day, and then she’d have an unbelievable dinner on the table for my dad and I EVERY NIGHT.

Boy, could she cook any type of cuisine you wanted.  Since I was an only child, my friends would regularly gather around the table for pre-game dinners and get-togethers that mom would cook up.

However, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday were at the hospital. She would get up and go to dialysis treatments to replenish her body the way that her kidneys simply could not. It drained her. The rest of those days were a battle, and this went on for 10+ years of her 27 year battle with kidney disease. The transplants kept her sustained for the other 17 years or so, but even so, she never was fully HEALTHY.

Those Wednesday and Thursday periods at the gym were tough for her, but she always showed up. Just ask some of the women and men who’s lives she transformed with fitness. They NEVER even knew she was ill with kidney disease or at the hospital getting treated the day before.

More irony – the woman was a PICTURE OF HEALTH. She ate clean, worked out religiously, and had some seriously special genes that were powerful enough to allow her beautiful green eyes shine through in a way that had all my baseball teammates telling me how beautiful she was; constantly!

My Mom at the Gym

She LIVED THE CODE and LOOKED THE PART, despite being bed-ridden quite often each week.

Sunday, was always our day of worship, starting with The Church (Believer’s Chapel in North Syracuse, NY) and carrying throughout the day of rest that she truly needed so much. She put so much time and energy into her relationship with Christ, which came out in the strength she so supernaturally displayed.

When she passed, she let me into her deepest thoughts, by leaving me a box of her journals that dated back to my toddler years. While they weren’t all easy to read, one thing was clear, my mother had an uncanny strength that was underwritten by The Holy Spirit himself. She had some serious psychological battles that only she knew about, and you can mark all those up as WINS because of this strength and perseverance aspect she displayed.

It’s really had an effect on me.

I always get skeptical when the media labels somebody who is successful as “self-made.”

Truth be told, I used to say that I was “self-made.” That could NOT be further from the truth, but my naivete had me thinking so for a long time.

You see, I came all the way from Syracuse, New York to little ‘ole Montevallo, Alabama, to play baseball at the University of Montevallo. No friends. No car. No phone (can you imagine me with no phone). Probably not 🙂

Here I am eleven years later, building a home, a family and a brand in Birmingham. It took guts to leave home. It took some serious confidence in myself, to leave my family 1,000 miles behind me.

However, all of that confidence was sourced in the fact that I knew she believed in me. This 58 second video clip was part of a surprise video friends and family made for me for my 30th birthday. She recorded this less than a half year before she left this earth, but she always had these thoughts about me, and I knew it.

So I’d say to myself [and out loud to others], “no, I don’t have some career hookup or connection that my mommy or daddy put together, I created my destiny on my own. Thus, I’m self-made.”

That was an incorrect, egotistical statement that could not be further from the truth.

The truth is… God had a plan for me that I still have trouble understanding but am diligently following. Part of His plan, was for me to have this superhuman Mom that instilled things inside of me, which have culminated to make me the man I am today.

His purpose; for me to glorify Him – HIS PURPOSE FOR ALL OF US.

She did so right in front of me, and she did it pretty darn well. And now it’s my responsibility to carry it on.

I’m not self-made. Just like everyone else, I’m God-made. And God blessed me with a mom that I miss so much, but I will absolutely NOT let Him or her down, regardless of how many days are left for me on this earth.

We are all called to be stewards. We are called to steward more than just money, but also to steward our time and our relationships, amongst other things. The number one human relationship we have is with our mothers.

Cherish your mothers. Love them. Not just today, but each and every day you have left with them.

Mom & I Dancing At My Wedding

We danced at my wedding, knowing that this moment would stand still in time. And it has.


3 thoughts on “Mother’s Day 2013 – You Don’t Know What You Got ‘Till It’s Gone

  1. Jim, I just lost my mother, Sept 28. She fought so incredibly hard against this aggressive blood cancer, but ultimately we weren’t meant to have more time together.

    I went back to this blog post you sent me originally back when we were in one of our many long hospital visits. I thought I understood your words before, because I knew what it was like to have a mother staring death right in the eye. But it’s another thing to read your words once your mom is gone. Like you, I’m the only child of my parents. The deep, deep loss, the hole, I have to tell you it’s incredible. Like nothing I ever imagined. She was my best friend, my daily phone call. I send you condolences for your loss. I understand how you feel. How you felt watching your mom buy more time so bravely with dialysis, and then facing cancer. By the time I took her home to die with support of hospice, my mother couldn’t go more than a day without a blood or plasma transfusion. She went quickly. I’m so sad. Tell me it gets easier….

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