By Lauren Westin, MD
It has been a year since the passing of my mom. A day does not pass when I take pause to think of her, or wonder what she would be doing today. There are moments when I can still hear her voice calling me in for dinner. Or, giving reassurance when I needed it badly. They are things you remember the most. While I’ve been blessed with an excellent memory, there are a few things I’d rather not remember – like getting in trouble for tossing a garter snake into Cindy’s (my sister) bed. While Cindy and I can laugh about it now, Cindy wasn’t happy when I did it. And, mom, saying she was disappointed with my behavior would be an understatement.
But, of course, we all grow up, become more responsible. And, hopefully, gain some wisdom along the way. Mom had wisdom. She knew all of us, Tom, Cindy and I, had potential and the possibilities of life were endless. Her wisdom to us was “to follow the goodness in our hearts“. If we do, all will flow from it, with God at our side. There, we would find our calling and place in life. A cynic’s view would label this as nothing more than a nice sentiment, but mom lived it and practiced it daily. To her, civility, kindness and manners mattered. These were her values. They became mine.
I have practiced her values, albeit imperfectly, in my own personal life. Yet, I have impressed upon my daughter, Tara, to have and practice her grandma’s values. They are of worth, and they will define you as a person – in your heart, in your soul. What others think does not matter. Determination is essential, but not to the point where it hardens and steals away your heart and soul.
Professionally, mom’s wisdom and values have served me well. In trauma medicine, it is practiced in minutes and seconds. In the most critical cases, acting quickly and decisively is imperative. It is equally, if not more, important to have a human connectedness when so much is at stake. To reassure and instill hope is just as valuable as the technology and skill in these moments.
In the end, it is about caring for those you love the most and keep close to your heart. And, it is about keeping your promises to them. I thank my mom for teaching life is more than a series of vignettes but rather is a mosaic created by the hand of God.
Mom, I love you and miss you so much.
About the author –
Lauren Westin is a practicing trauma surgeon with University of Colorado Health, and an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She holds certifications in trauma surgery, trauma medicine and microsurgery.
The original tribute, “I Cross My Heart“, to Laurie’s mom, Margaret Westin, can be read here.