Mom's Last Gift
Mysterious Ways|August/September 2020
Mom's Last Gift
“Your mother’s breast cancer has returned, and it’s metastasized to her bones,” said my mother’s doctor. “It’s…everywhere. I’m so sorry, Roberta.”
Roberta Messner

I clutched the phone, tears in my eyes. Mother’s diagnosis had no cure. Worse, as a nurse of more than 20 years who’d cared for many end-of-life patients, I knew what her future held.

Even as a health-care professional, I had never really been able to do anything for my mother. Fiercely independent, she’d always been the caretaker, one with a hugely charitable spirit. Especially when I was a teen, battling my own incurable illness. She’d arranged and accompanied me on numerous trips to the Cleveland Clinic. During those long train rides, she’d always reach into her bag and produce a gift—a Seventeen magazine, a brand-new flannel nightgown for me. We didn’t have a lot of money, but somehow Mother always managed to find a way to give me the perfect gift to lift my spirits.


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August/September 2020