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Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

My Mother Died on Christmas Eve

December 24, 2014

Some things you never forget

Some things you never forget

My mother, Martha Scolnick Larris, died on Christmas Eve. Tonight I’ll light the yahrzeit lamp to mark the anniversary of her passing. The same lamp she used to honor her parents’  memory. I guess some day my children will light it for me. Lovely Jewish tradition.

1994. It’s been twenty years. My relationship with my mother was often contentious and frustrating and hurtful. As much for her as it was for me, I’m sure. Takes two to tango. But we also had fun together. And there was much about her that I loved and admired including her love of books, her impressive vocabulary and quick wit, her instant rapport with every child she encountered, her self-reliance and her sense of fairness. She was a whiz at canasta and bridge and absolutely unbeatable in Scrabble. Also, my mom had a dynamite smile which you can see in this photo at the right.

I think of her often while I’m in the kitchen. I still have her coffee pot and her ice cream scoop. I still make her meatloaf, her sweet potato and marshmallow casserole, her banana chocolate chip cake. But it’s in the garden, when I marvel at my gladiolus or smell the lilacs that she comes to me most. The fact that I have a garden which gives me so much pleasure is a direct result of being my mom’s daughter. Let me tell you, that woman knew her flowers. And because of her, so do I. And so does my daughter.

This iris grows in my garden  because my mom had them in hers.

This iris grows in my garden because my mom had them in hers.

Maybe it seems a small thing to know a freesia from a forsythia, a hydrangea from a hyacinth. And who really cares if those iris bulbs I got from my neighbor seem bluer this year than ever?  I care. I can’t help it. This special awareness of plants provides me… no compels me to pay attention and celebrate color, light, form and fragrance. If I saw them all as “just flowers” I’d be missing most of the show and I certainly wouldn’t be taking photos of them every chance I get. Appreciating beauty at that level ain’t small potatoes. So thank you, Mom.

I know all moms are not always a positive influence on their children. People, including our parents, come into our lives for a reason. But even in a less than wonderful childhood there are positive lessons. Take a moment and think about those lessons. They are gifts you’ve received. Now think about the legacy you’re giving to your children. Hopeful it’s a life-affirming one.

Your comments, as always, are welcome.



  1. Here’s another comment about your mom, Martha Larris… I actually miss her!

    Comment by David Fox — December 24, 2014 @ 2:25 pm

  2. Annie, I’m so glad I came across today’s post about your Mom. Both of my parents are still alive but my relationships with each of them has been tough at times. You’re right – we learn many lessons (good and bad) from people that we come in contact with during our lives. Your post is a reminder to me that I need to see and appreciate those lessons, and maybe even acknowledge the people who have taught me those lessons before it’s too late. Have a wonderful holiday and thanks again for sharing.

    Comment by Chris Pilon — December 24, 2014 @ 9:50 pm

  3. What a beautiful post and a tribute to your mom and a wonderful message. May your mom’s memory be a blessing for you and your family.

    Comment by Ariel — December 30, 2014 @ 5:58 am

  4. Hi, my mum passed away this Christmas Eve & her funeral is next Tuesday 31 January 2017. I can’t get my head round this & am so SAD, please talk to me. xxx

    Comment by Elaine Eke — January 29, 2017 @ 3:56 pm

  5. Dear Lainey,

    Dear Elaine,
    I’m so sorry to hear about the death of your mom. I understand what a terrible loss you must be feeling. This is very hard. There are no easy words to make it better. This is deep pain. I can only say that it will help for you and the rest of your family to hold each other close and to talk about how you’re feeling. You can also, write in a journal or on your computer… as if you were writing a letter to your mom. Imagine that she will read and hear what you write… I believe she’s with you, in your heart, forever.

    Please write back if it will help. Any time.


    Comment by Annie — January 29, 2017 @ 5:35 pm

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