I normally wouldn’t put something so private out to the public, but my mom was so incredible that I felt compelled to share these sentiments publicly.  I am sure there are many others out there who are either close to losing a loved one or have lost a loved one and feel many of the same things.


I made sure I said these things to my Mom prior to her passing.  If you have lost the words in the midst of you caring for a loved one, or in the midst of the grief surrounding their passing, I hope these words are helpful to share to your Mom prior to their passing or about your Mom after they’ve passed.



Honora Mary Clarkson

All The Things I Always Wanted to Say to You, Mom





You passed on December 15, 2012, at 12:40 PM Denver time.  I am so sad that I was only 5 minutes away when you passed.  When I left to come to visit you, you were stable; but when I was minutes away, it’s as if you knew that others who love you and I were going to spend the day with you. You then passed so fast – passing privately, peacefully and with dignity, like you lived your life.


Thank you for giving me life. Thank you for being my mom.


(The original letter follows)





When I first wrote this letter to you, it was only hours since finding out that you have cancer back in 2005. It made me realize that you are not indestructible, like I always think of you – living forever and ever.  I revisited this frequently to add all the things that have happened since your first bout of cancer.


There are so many things I want to say, like how much I love you and will forever and ever. You will always be my mommy. Always.


You have my love, strength, prayers and support as you take on this fight.


There are so many things that I want to say. So, I decided to keep a running list to share with you.


  1. You mean the world to me.
  2. I love you for not only giving me life, but also for the fantastic quality of the life you and dad have given me.
  3. The integrity to which you and dad inspire me to have; it’s given me the strength of conviction in the choices I have made. It has not only meant the world to me, but kept me from morally going astray.  It is a gift that will last my lifetime – a gift I hope to pass on to my children.
  4. Thank you for teaching me to love. It is through this gift that I meet those who I am fortunate to call my friends and the gift through which I relinquish those who seek to harm me. It is through this gift, that I could love a child like Savannah, who is not my own, though I love her as if she is my own.  In short, thank you for giving me the gift to take the gift of your love and passing it on to others.
  5. Thank you for believing in me. There were many times I didn’t believe in myself that I never told you about.  You likely knew about those times, but never let on.  The times that meant the most to me were after [XXXX] had told me that I wouldn’t make a good parent.  That really hurt me.  However, you believed in me and my ability to be a parent. You said, “Look at the way you treat that rabbit.” (My pet rabbit, Flopsy.) That did mean the world to me.  In fact, it was those very words that came to mind when I met Savannah for the first time. I knew I could be a good parent and could be to such a sweet girl as she.
  6. Thank you for teaching me to speak English well, though I probably have a few dangling participles in this letter…and we know how painful it can be when your participles dangle, right? Not a pretty sight.
  7. Thank you for teaching me to strive to be the best in everything that I do.  Sometimes, I forget this lesson, but then I hear your voice in the 1973 Field Day Ribbonsback of my head cheering me on to be the best.  You know, I remember First Grade Field Day like it’s yesterday. I took 2nd place in every event, all those red ribbons.  You said to me, “Did you do your best?”  I said, “Yes.”  You asked, “Do you want to do better next year?”  I told you I wasn’t going to get 2nd again.  Well, I got 1st and 3r1974 Field Dayd. No 2nd.  I guess I kept my word.  I keep those ribbons to this day. They remind me to never stop giving my best. Thank you for that gift of pushing myself to be the best I can be. I hope it impacts the lives of those around me like yours had impacted me.
  8. Thank you for loving [XXX] (my ex-wife) and Savannah as your own children and grandchildren, even though you saw things in [XXX] that I didn’t until much later.  I know you had some trepidation about her early on which only grew as you saw how she treated me, but I appreciate your open mind and, more importantly, your open heart.  You mean the world to that little girl. You are more of a grandparent to that little girl than some of her own flesh and blood.  It is a gift of love you have given a little girl who is so deserving of it. Her excitement each time she sees you shows me that the gift you gave me is one you continue to give to her.  I will see that love come back to me through her and be reminded of you forever because of that. Though [XXX] was a mistake, your strength to know right or wrong guided me to make the right choice before it was too late. Thank you for accepting them and not trying to influence me.
  9. Thank you for believing in me when I left [XXXXXXXXX].  It seemed crazy to leave a $200k a year job given that [XXXX] just stuck me with that house in Castle Rock. I remember when I was having the house landscaped, you asking me: How much is this going to cost?  When I told you $7000, you said, “Are you sure we can’t do it and save you the money?”  You wanted to do it in the hottest summer in 60 years, with temperatures near 105º.  I told you my job was to find another job and things would work out.  I wish I could have imparted then how much the gift of the integrity you gave me meant at that very moment. The phone rang off the hook within hours of my departure, literally.  Though I never said a word to clients about my departure, my clients took the initiative to have companies seek me out!
  10. Thank you for believing in me when I started my own businesses.  It was scary enough without having my own doubts. Your and dad’s belief in me made the decision to do something on my own an easy one.
  11. Thank you for the gift of self-reliance.  That has kept me strong in times that others would be weak.
  12. Thank you for the gift of intelligence. You taught me to think. And you taught me to balance my head with my heart.
  13. Thank you for not sending me to the “Bad Boys Home”, even when I deserved to go.
  14. Thank you for watching “The Avengers” (In Color) on Saturday afternoon on Channel 2. Every time I watch it, I think of those Saturday afternoons at 1014 East 10th Avenue.
  15. Thank you for watching the “Match Game” with me every day after school during the 70’s. Every time I watch it, I think of you.  There are episodes I clearly remember a remark you made, just like it was yesterday.
  16. Thank you for keeping me in touch with my English family.  This is a gift I hope to pass on.
  17. Thank you for loving my dad. He is also very special.  I know this is a gift that you gave on your own, your unending love for him. However, he is a very special man. Thanks for choosing him to be my dad.
  18. Thank you for quitting smoking. It may have meant that I got to write this letter 30 years later than I am. The thought of potentially losing you now is unbearable; the thought of losing you at a more formative time in my life is unthinkable.
  19. Thank you for your sense of humor. It has kept my spirits up, even when I am down.
  20. Thank you for taking care of Flopsy when I was on the road.  He loved you too.
  21. Thank you for sharing memories of your childhood with me. Seeing you overcome so much has been an inspiration to me. Your medical fights in 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011 and now inspires me even more.
  22. Thank you for being strong when I moved to New York.  I still have your letters that you and dad sent to me with my furniture.  They made me cry when I read them, they still do today.  I missed you both so much when I lived there.
  23. Thank you for loving me, even when I made bad choices.
  24. Thank you for being a friend when you needed to be, yet a parent all the time.
  25. Thanks for not always taking my side. You always made me think. You were always a great parent, but knew when to make me look at myself.
  26. Thanks for teaching me right from wrong.
  27. Thanks for showing me that being strong-headed and soft-hearted can co-exist…and both are good.
  28. Thanks for the Broncos buffet of hoagies and chips during Super Bowl XXII that turned into a loser’s luncheon by half-time. I will always remember that, though the 42-10 drubbing should be forgettable.
  29. Thanks for being strong. It’s okay to ask for strength from others at a time like this. The love you have given others will now flow back to you.
  30. Thanks for sharing memories of your mom. She sounded wonderful. I am glad you were able to honor her the way you want with her grave marker.  I can’t wait for you to see it.
  31. Thanks for being the inspiration for me to choose [XXX] to marry and to divorce when it was the right thing to do.  Thanks for not offering your opinion and giving me the tools to make the right decision when it was right for me.  You taught me to be unafraid to love, yet not be afraid to leave when appropriate, lest one forget to love and care for oneself.
  32. Thanks for letting me climb through Mrs. Hurley’s window to unlock her house for her back at 1014. I don’t know why that came to mind just now, but it was another happy memory.
  33. Thanks for a childhood of happy memories.
  34. Thanks for an adulthood of happy memories.
  35. Thanks for showing me how to love just by the way you dealt with others.
  36. Thanks for teaching me to think like you and finish off each other’s sentences. Whenever I think of certain things, I know that you were “just thinking the exact same thing”.
  37. Thanks for making sure my imaginary friends, Chim-Chim and Spritle, came with us wherever we went.
  38. Thanks for not stepping on Chim-Chim and Spritle – imaginary friends are sometimes hard to see.
  39. Thanks for teaching me the word gleaned and that it has a Scrabble point value of 207 points when used as the first word and you use all your tiles…and left your 8 year-old kid “in the dust” right out the blocks of a supposedly “friendly Scrabble game”.
  40. Thanks for getting me the painting “The Gleaners” years later – to rub it in. 😉
  41. Thanks for teaching me to be competitive and not accept mediocrity in myself or others. It has done tons for promoting my self-esteem and for motivating me to seek out better people in my life.
  42. Thank you for teaching me that consensus is abdication to the weakest link and breaking the weakest link makes the rest of the chain stronger.
  43. Thank you for teaching me to think for myself, to be a leader – and follow when appropriate – and that thinking for myself doesn’t preclude thinking of others and their feelings.
  44. Thank you for being strong during this fight. I want you to win, so that you can be there for so many memories that are yet to happen.
  45. Thank you for fighting, but know that when it’s too hard to fight, that you will be in a better place. I will live my life to make you proud.  I will live my life to be worthy to join you in Heaven some day.
  46. Thanks for looking over me when you get there.  I felt your mom’s presence when I was at her grave.  I know that white feather on your mom’s grave on that windiest of days was meant for me to let you know she is looking out for you and ready to welcome you when it’s meant to be…but it wasn’t yet time.  I hope that is not for a long time, but when God knows it’s best for you, please know I don’t want you to suffer.
  47. Thank you for loving Julie like your own child.  Thank you for telling me how lovely she is and that she is the one I was meant to be with and seeing the same things I see in her.
  48. Thank you for loving her dogs, which you called your friends…and they are.
  49. Thank you for making last Christmas a memory that will last a lifetime.  Julie will miss you too, though only knowing you a fraction of the time I have known you.
  50. Thank you for making this list so long.


You are going to overcome this.  You are strong, smart and, other than this, in great health.


Please fight as hard as we are all praying for you.







PS.  As I noted above, Mom passed away on December 15, 2012 at 12:40 PM Denver time.  I was able to share this with her just days before her passing.  She told me not to cry for her.  She gave us all two great days of memories after that…which we memorialized.  Thank you, Mom.  May you rest in peace.











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