A toddler laughs, mid air, as an adult lifts the toddler into the air.

From the time I was a baby, my mother often displayed her love for me by reciting a list of endearments such as: mi chiquitica linda, mi preciosa, mi criaturita hermosa, mi alegría, la hija más amada en el mundo, el tesoro de mi corazón. Loosely translated, her litany would go like this: my cute little thing, my precious, my beautiful child, my joy, the most loved little daughter in the world, my heart’s treasure..... The overture to her list was the sound of endearment tsh, tsh, tsh, accompanied by a smile, and the grand finale included a most tender look, accompanied by the question, Who loves you so much?

I came to expect her tender litany when I grew up, even when I became a mother myself and visited her with my children. On the eve of my mother’s death I came home to find her heavily sedated, as the hospice nurse had given her a dose of morphine. Still, when I got close to her bed, she held my hand and softly recited a shorter version of her list of endearments for the last time.

I always admired and loved my mother for her integrity, her many caring ways, her strong sense of duty as a public health nurse helping the poorest of the poor, her love of nature, her unbound generosity and sense of gratitude, and her love of the Mystery which she used to call Giver of All Gifts, and Beauty Always Ancient and Always New. Oh, how I do miss her. What I miss the most, however, is the tender look in her eyes and her sweet voice reciting to me her special litany of endearments.

I am sure that after I die, my children and grandchildren will remember some of the ways I manifested my love and care for them. I trust with all my heart that one of those ways will be my reciting the special litany of endearing names I developed just for them, just as I remember my mother showering me with her litany of endearments, now that she is gone.