A Tribute to My Mother

I still vividly remember the day I got the phone call. I was sitting in my managing editor’s office at the Austin American-Statesman as the editors wrapped up our afternoon page review. The name on the phone said, “Mom,” but I didn’t answer. 

As I walked out of his office once the meeting was over, another call came from a Huntington, West Virginia phone number. I walked to a private area in the newsroom and answered, “Is this Mr. Michael Adams?” the person on the other end asked.

“Yes,” I replied. “This is sergeant Johnathon Thomas with the Huntington Police Department,” he said. “I don’t know how to tell you this, but your mother has passed. I’m so sorry.” 

I dropped to my knees and sat there numb. I didn’t cry at first. I was in too much shock to cry. My mom had just turned 62 years old. She was too young. I got the strength to get up and start walking back to my desk and then it hit me. I collapsed in a hallway that connected the break room and our newsroom. I sat there with my back up against a window and cried harder than I had cried in years. No one walked by. No one saw.  I eventually walked back to my desk and told my boss, who told me to go home. Our deputy sports editor walked with me out of the building, offering comfort and a hug. 

It will be six years in August since my mother died. A year later, I lost the second most influential woman in my life – my grandmother. 

Mother’s Day hasn’t been easy for many years. My mom is not here to share in my successes or see the person I’ve become. She won’t be here next year to see me graduate from graduate school. She never got to see my son, Austin, grow up and become the young man he is today and won’t get to see him graduate high school.

And while I often avoided her 2-hour phone calls like the plague, there’s not been a day since that day in August 2016 that I haven’t longed for one. 

My mom lives on through me. Her influence is what drives me in my current passions and why I put so much emphasis on my own health. Instead of my usual educational blog post, I decided to offer a tribute to my mother on this day we honor all the special women that have left an impact on our lives. 

What My Mother Taught Me

My mother didn’t have a lot of money growing up. She was the second youngest of 11 siblings. She would tell me stories about how she shared clothes with her sisters or that she made her own clothes. I never met her father, who died when my mother was very young. I don’t have many memories of her mother, but I do remember meeting her. She died when I was very young. 

My mom was always close to her family. I would spend many weekends in my childhood visiting my aunts, uncles, and cousins. Growing up, I was really close to her side of the family but we grew apart as I got older, and many of them have since passed away. I have always cherished those memories. 

My mother had a big heart. She cared for everyone that meant something to her. Sometimes she cared a little too much, but she was a mother first and always believed it was her job to protect us. She influenced my love of music, learning, and cooking. Yet, her biggest influences were her love of animals and writing. 

He Gets it From His Mama

My mother was a creative person, much like me. She loved sewing and making crafts, but one of her greatest talents was writing. My mother never pursued a career with her writing as I did, but it wasn’t because she lacked the talent. 

She loved writing poetry and kept a book with all of the poems she wrote in it. I’m not sure if that book is still around, but I often wonder what would have happened if she had an outlet like the internet or social media where she could have shared them with the world.

My mom was one of the first people to encourage me to go into journalism. When I was growing up, she had a word processor that she taught me how to use. It was the closest thing to a computer we had. I fell in love with the word processor and spent a lot of time on it writing. It’s when I discovered how writing was an outlet to get my thoughts out.

When I was about 10 years old, my mom helped me put together a newspaper for our neighborhood on this word processor. She let me do it all but shared guidance. I wrote stories about what was going on in the neighborhood and she edited it and printed Then, I would walk around the neighborhood and distributed them to our neighbors. She still had a copy of the first issue until the day she died. 

My mother always had an empathetic and compassionate heart, especially when it came to animals. It’s where I get my empathy and passion for helping people.

We always had a dog, cat, or both growing up. She was so caring for animals, especially ones that had been abandoned or needed a home. I see that same compassion for animals in me. It’s how I ended up with my youngest cat, Wrigley. If it wasn’t for common sense, I’d probably have a house full of cats. 

My mom always helped people. She was very involved in our community when I was growing up and gave back in many ways. Her love of animals, compassionate heart, and creativity are her greatest influences on me. However, her biggest impact on my life is why I started Very Well Wellness.

My Mother and Diabetes

My mother was diagnosed with diabetes when she was in her 30s. I remember how scared she was and how much of a death sentence she believed her diagnosis was. She would read all sorts of information and how to control it.

After her divorce from my father in 1996, my mother struggled in life. She was homeless for a period of time, never had a stable place to live, and became disabled. She lacked resources to take care of her disease, whether it was to afford healthy food or get the proper medical care she needed.

Her insulin was expensive and often she had to go without it because she couldn’t afford it. I also believe that she also had undiagnosed multiple sclerosis. She had a lot of signs, but the doctors wouldn’t listen to her and attributed her symptoms to her diabetes. 

Her disease started progressing quickly because she couldn’t get the help she needed. It didn’t help that she smoked and drank a 2-liter bottle of Pepsi every day, but those were the only joys she had in the latter part of her life. 

She later had to go on disability because her diabetes progressed so much that she couldn’t stand on her feet for long periods of time. In the last several months of her life, the doctors told her that if she didn’t stop smoking or change her diet, she was going to lose her legs. Her kidneys were also beginning to fail. 

The failures of our modern medical system aside, my mom suffered because she didn’t have the resources to buy healthier food to control her disease through diet. I knew it didn’t have to be this way. If I knew then what I know now about nutrition and diabetes, I would have been able to help her more.

After her death, I decided to dive deeper into my fitness journey and learn everything I could about the human body. Months after my mom died, I signed up to get my yoga teaching certification. This led me on a journey into functional health, nutrition, and fitness, and a deeper passion to help people live healthier lives. It is why I pursued a master’s degree in kinesiology and chasing this passion.

My passion for fitness and wellness wouldn’t be what it is if I hadn’t seen how much our modern health care system failed my mother. 

Moving to Austin

I graduated from Marshall University in May of 2003. Two weeks after graduation, I packed my car and moved to Austin. My mom stayed in West Virginia to be near her grandson and my sister. My sister had her second child two years later. My mom and my sister were always more of the family types. I, on the other hand, had big dreams and wanted to chase them. 

I kept a close relationship with my mom after moving to Austin. She was at my wedding in 2006 and attended my son’s baptism in 2007. She made several trips to Texas to visit me and my son, with her last trip being in 2011. My grandfather died in 2013 and I traveled up to his funeral and visited my mom for a couple of days. It was the last time I saw her while she was alive. She died three years later.

We kept in contact through regular phone calls and video chats. My mom loved to talk on the phone. The one thing about my mom’s phone calls was that you had to have nothing planned for at least 2 hours if you answered. Also, you had better get in what you wanted to say in the first 10 minutes or you weren’t going to get a word in. You could sit the phone down, go wash the dishes, come back, and she would still be going a mile a minute. What I wouldn’t give for one of those phone calls today. 

The night before she died, my mom texted my sister and me. The only thing it said was, “Good night, I love you both.”… I didn’t respond. It’s been really difficult to forgive myself for not responding. So, I thought I’d respond now… 

A Letter to Mom

Dear Mom, 

There are no words that can describe the feeling when I realized that you had passed away. My heart fell out of my chest. Time stopped. I hope you know that even though I didn’t say it enough, I loved you, too! 

You left this world too soon. It still feels like yesterday. I have no idea where you are in the afterlife, but I hope it’s somewhere in nature surrounded by animals and doing the things you loved.

I wish you could see how big Austin has grown and how much of me he has in him. I wish you could be there next year when I graduate with my master’s degree and to see him graduate high school in three years. 

You were always there for me, often when no one else was. You stood up for me when everyone was picking on me. You comforted me when my heart was broken and took care of me when I was sick. I remember being afraid and you telling me I could face anything. You made me the man I am today. For that, I am forever grateful. 

I wish I had the chance to say goodbye and have one last hug. I wish your life would have been easier, and that I could have done more to help you. You gave up so much for us and there are not enough words to express how grateful I truly am. 

I hope you are in a better place wherever you are.  I love you, mom!

Celebrating All Mothers

Today is a day we celebrate the women that have a great influence on our lives. For some of us, this day isn’t easy.  Regardless of your situation, take time today to say thank you to a mother and the special women in your life. 

Happy Mother’s Day! 

Sign up for my newsletter

Be sure to sign up for my weekly newsletter. It is full of helpful tips, workouts, recommendations, and recipes.

Success! You're on the list.

Medical disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. While I am a certified nutritionist and wellness coach, I am not providing healthcare, medical, or nutritional therapy services or attempting to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any physical, mental, or emotional issue. The information provided on this website or any materials provided by Very Well Wellness is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. Always seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before undertaking a new health regimen. Do not disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical advice because of information you read on this website or any materials provided by Very Well Wellness. Do not start or stop any medications without speaking to your medical or mental health provider.

Copyright © 2022 Very Well Wellness. All Rights Reserved.