words of motherly advice from my sister before she died

Sisters photo with baby blanket

My sister Marci holding me as a baby

Seven years ago today, just five years after my dad died, my half-sister Marci died from cancer. She was only 50 years old.

She and I were not very close. Not by choice, but more so because we didn’t have the time or opportunity to really know each other. Sixteen years separated us by age and, for most of our lives, we either lived in different homes (she with her mom and me with our dad) or in different cities completely. Nevertheless, in looking back, I think we had more in common than we ever discovered. We shared a similar dry sense of humor, which we got from our dad, a love of movies and theater, which we got from our dad, and an affection for wine, which we also got from our dad. I think about her often, especially when I hear certain songs or drive by certain places in San Diego that I know she used to love, and I long to hear her boisterous laugh just one more time.

Mostly, when I think about her, I think about the advice she gave me right before she died. I was five months pregnant with my first daughter, and she told me, in our final heart-to-heart, that a lot people were going to have opinions on the way I would parent, and that there would be a lot of outside forces trying to tell me what to do when it came down to my kid(s). Her advice to me was to take what people had to say in stride, but to ultimately quiet those voices and listen to my heart.  She said,

“You will know what to do.”

I haven’t had to make too many big decisions with my kids yet, except what to name them and most recently, whether or not to red-shirt them for Kindergarten, but I always keep her words close and know that when I have a fork in the road of my parenting I need to quiet the outside voices and listen to my heart. I will know what to do.

Thank you, sis, for those words of strength and courage. An invaluable gift that I’m not even sure you know you gave me.

I pass these same words on to other women who are expecting their first baby, and I pass them on now to Marci’s daughter who just had her second child.

Tonight I will toast to my gregarious, fun-loving sister Marci, as well as her two daughters, her grandkids she never got to meet, and her two other sisters who I know miss her terribly, with some chardonnay in my favorite wine glass that she gave me before she died.

Toasting to my dearly departed sister

I guess she knew me better than I thought she did.




  1. 1
    Jenny Burt says:

    Loved this

  2. 2

    Me too. She sure gave you great advice. xo

  3. 3
    Kylene says:

    This is beautiful – her advice and your tribute to her.

  4. 4
    Karen says:

    What a beautiful tribute. Thank you, Mary. I miss her very much and think of her often.

  5. 5
    Cindy says:

    Heartwarming. I think I wil use those exact words now for others. Thanks for sharing.

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