My Mother’s last words to me

I wrote this a few days after my mother passed away today on October 2, 1989. I have carried it with me since not knowing if what I wrote was meant only for me.

As the memories of that night flood me again, I feel that the heaviness of carrying it for so long has made me weak. I also don’t know when I might join her (and my dad), and this true story will go down with me. I suppose by sharing this with you I can tell you what a fine woman she was, and how all she had in her heart and on her mind, was the other person.

Perhaps my mom’s last words deserve a wider audience…especially of sons for we have no idea what goes on in a mother’s heart, even when we think we understand her feelings for us; actually we can never.

–Sohaib Alvi, a son too late would like to tell you something.

My Mother’s last words to me

What was it she had said?

The sun was setting as I entered the ICU cabin where she lay on her back looking at my elder sister and brother, who had been with her for the afternoon. She had turned her head immediately as I entered and as I bent down to kiss her she had looked into my eyes and said something. It was one of those moments where you have caught the words but you can’t unscramble them immediately. Like that nanosecond when the bullet has hit you but the pain has not yet begun.

She couldn’t speak audibly anymore for the last few days and only make an effort, with shortness of breath pulling down her words. She would gulp for air every few seconds and yet would want to speak to us. Her mouth would open and half a whisper would come out or none at all. I would never hear her voice again for the few days left for her with us.

I had hushed her down to save her the effort to speak. It happens when you are in too much of a hurry to quieten someone in pain. But I knew the words had parked themselves in my mind subliminally. Like the music you heard in passing without noticing it and yet you know you could hum it if you kept delving into the moment before it would perish forever.

I knew she was dying and very close to leaving us. After a long hard struggle over nine years with cancerous peptic ulcer and a range of other complications, my mother had become too fragile to continue her fight. Frail and weak, she nevertheless kept her smile, and her tenacity with which she had brought us up against so many odds showed still.

But I could tell she was scared; she didn’t want to die and not only because she loved us all so much. She was someone who enjoyed life and talking with people. She had battled cancerous tumor enough to see all of us married, and held and hugged all her grandchildren during her illness, except my next two sons who would be born later.

What was it she had said? Did she want the pain to stop?

Being the youngest I had spent least time with her, and my brother and sister were fortunate to have grown up with her when she was stronger. She had battled the post independence blues of settling down in a small two room flat plus courtyard in Sadder in the morphing city of Karachi, along with my uncle and his family and the young relatives in transit, finding their feet before moving on into the world.

Daughter of a senior bureaucrat in the British Raj, she had been schooled in Lucknow, Delhi and Simla (the summer capital where her father would move with the government). She was fond of the arts from childhood, loved classical dance and played the sitar.

But as my father struggled to find work without compromising his integrity for he had been a pre partition journalist, well educated and strong on values, my mother ensured she was there in every way for her two children, teaching and schooling them in the best missionary schools.

I arrived in her world late and never once did I hear her complain despite a near princely upbringing. She had fallen in love with my father who had a dashing personality and loved him till her end, standing by him all through even as his world crumbled around him.

My earliest memory of her was the ever smiling and cheerful woman who found something good in everything and everyone. By then my father had ensured a separate flat for us halfway between Tariq Road and the famous Cheel Wali Kothi. He had started work in Morning News and Radio Pakistan but what he knew was not what the people in power and media then wanted to hear. In an effort to bring forward the truth much of his work would be shelved, and my mother would live through his hurt.

The memories flashed by me as I watched her trying to catch her breath, which would come often with a pause and pulled up with effort. She spoke as much with her eyes as her lips, but gasping for breath, her mouth was seldom closed for the whisper. At that moment her eyes had become alive, and all but came out to ask me what she wanted.

What was it she had said? Glass of water? Another pain killing injection?

I can’t remember her asking anything from me ever except to fetch something from the market downstairs. She would do all her shopping herself, leaving her children to pursue their education in the mornings and afternoons. On Sunday mornings there would be a chorus in the house as I woke up late. She was so popular among the family that there would always be someone who would come up to laugh with her and have tea as they would come that side to do their shopping.

She would help my cousins whichever way she could, especially teaching, and one of them always said he owed his passing of high school to her. She was the confidant of all wives in the small building, called Baji by all. She would listen to their intimate fears and sorrows and laughingly tell her of everything funny that would happen in their household and personal lives. It seemed they drew their happiness from just her company alone, for she never once commented on their personal lives or passed it on. Perhaps that is why they trusted her so much.  She would never speak anyone’s secret.

What was it she had said? Did she want to tell me something that had to be done for her?

It had grown dark by the time I was alone with her. I watched the soft moonlight filter through the darkish glassed window and rest quietly on her closed eyelids. I remembered her love for me in every way. Walking me back from school as a toddler, reading stories with me, breaking her nap to cook a warm meal for me at odd hours in the afternoon and when I had fever to stay up most of the night.

I leaned back on the chair and thought how little I had repaid her, other than to be with her physically to drive her somewhere, or eat a meal with her when I was not studying or roaming with friends. I watched her face resting uneasily on the pillow, the slightest of twitch in her brows to indicate she wasn’t comfortable inside.

Then I lived a moment that would stay with me till eternity. In that stillness of the night her words had come out clearly all of a sudden, as if the darkest hour of the night had transformed itself into the midday sun in a flash. I just sat there and watched her face. My chest filled up and then went numb. I was too stunned to shed a tear, let alone cry.

To this day I see her making that effort to say what she did. To this day the words she wished to say but wouldn’t come out properly, live with me eternally. To this day I can read her mouth and eyes. To this day I see the worry in her drained eyes.

I see now that after a long days work with little sleep over the past few days, I must have looked disheveled, tired, and fatigued. She had not wanted anything from me.

What she had asked was, is and will remain at the heart of every mother’s love for her child, no matter how grown up we are. This is why Allah has given her a special place in this world, why He has placed heaven under her feet, and why we feed first from her bosom when we are born.

I cry inside for what she asked that evening. Tears will never come out for they are too stunned. Perhaps some feelings are best left frozen in time for them to retain their shape till eternity.

You see, in all her excruciating pain, down to her very last few breaths and strength, she had seen me walking in and with all the concern she had shown every time I had entered the house looking tired, had asked again:

“Son, have you had anything to eat?”

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About Sohaib Alvi

C-Suite Corporate Executive, MBA, Author, Writer, Blogger, Editor, Anchor, TV & Radio Analyst but above all a citizen of the world with a responsibility to live with my personal motto: Have Integrity; Share Knowledge; Create Distinction; Help People.
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362 Responses to My Mother’s last words to me

  1. Shamsa says:

    SOHAIB you brought back so many memories and cried for sometime before I was able to write this.Yes she was all that you said and much more. You will never know how much I respected and loved her. I learnt so much about life and how it should be lived from her.I am sure her ,duas, are still with her children although her physical presence is not.my love to you and your family.Shamsat

    • Sohaib Alvi says:

      Salaam Shamsa bhabhi,

      Salaam Shamsa Bhabhi…I didn’t know you hadn’t read this already. Yes you all were fortunate to live with her in her younger days and spend that time with her. Yes she has had an impact on all of us and perhaps that way has brought us closer in life. Feels good for someone to have lived with her reading this.

      Love you,

      Your Sweety

  2. Ali Shaikh says:

    Thanks for sharing… It’s like reading my own story.. :’((((

  3. asadkhan747@yahoo.com says:

    i am inexperience in mother’s love :( However i love it :)
    May Allah get you peace & your mother a place in Jannah. Ameen

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  5. My Mom passed away a year ago in very similar circumstances. Your words have great meaning for me. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Khalida Malik says:

    When I call my sons they say hello maa I have food just know go to the next

  7. shakilakhtar says:

    mothers seem to know only one sentence.

  8. Farah says:

    As touching as your blog is, there’s no doubt it struck a chord, you undoubtedly are very lucky to have heard the sound of your mothers voice as she breathed her last. Some of us just have memories of the good days – I have a mother who is Mashallah healthy but ageing. My maternal grandmother, nani, we lost her a year back. She died of failed organs after being diagnosed with a severe case of Alzheimer’s coupled with dementia. She had stopped communicating verbally maybe 6 months before her death. I still remember her gestures and dirty looks we got when she was not happy with us. I wish she spoke to me, my mother before she passed on. Your blog made me miss her.

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  10. One of the most profound and touching blogs i have read in recent years. May Allah always bless her soul, you and your family..

    Came across this touching story recently, thought would share it with you and the readers here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2429900/Pregnant-mother-paralysed-car-crash-woken-coma-son.html

  11. Genevieve says:

    Thank you once more for your wonderful story of mother’s love. How fitting that I returned to work to find your email. My mother died this morning. She was an amazing human being and touched so many peoples lives. I was so very blessed to have her as a mother. I am thankful she is at peace now and thankful for the two days I was able to spend sitting, holding her hand and telling her how much I loved her and thanking her for all of her gifts of love, laughter, compassion, honesty, strength, integrity, and so many other gifts. Stories and memories are many and precious. Thank you Mom!

  12. Ghazal Athar says:

    Just loss someone extremely close to lung cancer. A man who was loud, warm, loving and everyone’s Abu.. He had visitors all the time, told the best stories and loved all of his family unconditionally.. He passed silent .. Very sick at the end , unable to speak unable to explain, silent … It’s been very hard on the family .. I read ur story and every sentence broke my heart , ur mother is watching over you, she will always be with u… Be strong be patient and let urself cry , it will help .. My thoughts and prayers are with u

  13. Shadab says:

    Ameen to all the DUA’s made for your mother. May Allah swt blesses her soul with the highest ranks in Jannat ul firdaus. Ameen.

  14. Ayesha Azhar says:

    My mother is taking her afternoon nap now and as I sit on the ground reading and absorbing every word sewn by you, I look up at her.
    Tears are a small frame of expression, the true form is the scrunch of the chest.
    My heaven is with me and we never realise the true love until it’s away from us.
    Your every word eased into my soul.
    May Allah sbwt shower his Rehmat and grant your ami a beautiful place in Jannah.

    • Sohaib Alvi says:

      Ameen and thank you Ayesha. Look after her the way you do. And tell her everything that has made you happy because of what she has done. I suppose there is no better way to make her happy than for her to know how much you appreciate her. May she have a long, healthy and peaceful life. Ameen.

  15. Miriam says:

    It’s been 5 years since my mother-in-law passed away- October 11, 2008. I unfortunately didn’t make it to Pakistan in time to see her before she succumbed to Hepatitis C (I live in NYC). Her sister told me that even while in the hospital, she kept worrying about all the guests coming to her house in Rawalpindi from Mirpur, Azad Kashmir. I was told she kept telling her sisters to make sure no one left her house hungry. It must be just something all mothers worry about regardless of what they’re going through.

    May Allah reward your mother for all her sicknesses, her love for her family and grant her a high place in Jannah. May He bless all our parents who have gone and who are still with us and allow us to be reunited together in His Paradise. Ameen. Thank you for this warm story.

  16. Attiya says:

    I think you have spoken for everyone, who has lost their mother. My mother was in ICU the last 2 days. Memories come back to me of how she didn’t want to be in ICU but had to be as her condition was such. I was fortunate that I spent a lot of time with her and at the time of her death my older sister n I were at her bedside, reading surah Yasine and Kalimah.
    Oh Allah give my mother and all those who have lost their mothers and Sohaibs mother a place in Jannat Ul Firdous. Amen.

  17. afiasalamfia says:

    Sohaib I had read and didn’t comment as I just couldn’t! words seem so inadequate to express the emotions this letter brought forth. Stay blessed… seeing and knowing you is ample proof of what a great lady your mom was… may she be given the highest darajaat in heaven by Allah.

    • Sohaib Alvi says:

      Ameen and thank you for the kind words Afia. Whatever I am is because of my upbringing and fortunate to have been born where I was. You have been as loving and caring to your children as a mother too. I can tell that clearly having known you for so long.

  18. Hera says:

    This is extremely touchin and movin emotionally besides it’s a beautiful piece of work,Iam also an agitated daughter as i live far from my mom and dad and i miss them terribly.Mother’s are gem,need to be valued and treasured

  19. Aneeka says:

    Like your mother and every other mother, my mom is always concerned if I have eaten or not. I study and work and stay busy through out the day and don’t get time to eat well. But my mom leaves no chance of stuffing me with the healthiest of food she can find for me. She would make sure I have my breakfast before leaving the house, even if it means just one glass of milk and a banana. Unless I am back home, no matter how late it is, and no matter how tired or sleepy she is, she would stay up to serve me dinner that she cooked for me. She would sleep peacefully only when she’s content I have eaten. I must admit, there are times when I do get upset at her for constantly being after me to have my food and I even used to wonder is food the only thing on her mind all the time. Mothers are a true blessing. An irreplaceable one. Thank you for sharing your article and reminding me how fortunate I am.

  20. Nassera says:

    I HAD JUST UNDERGONE A CORNEA TRANSPLANT AND WAS IN THE RECOVERY ROOM WHEN MY YOUNGEST DAUGHTER WAS ALLOWED IN TO SEE ME,,,,,,,,, FLASHES OF HER TEAR FILLED EYES FLASHED BY AS I WAS BEING TAKEN TO THE OT.MY FIRST WORDS TO HER ? BETA HAVE YOU HAD SOMETHING TO EAT? I GUESS ALL MOTHERS ARE ALIKE …THE LIVING AND THE DEAD ,THEIR CONCERN IS NOT FOR THEMSELVES IT IS ALWAYS FOR THE CHILDREN .

  21. sharafs says:

    This is what my elder brother Justin Sharaf wrote about our MOM.
    “You sailed the boat to Heaven,
    And wait on other shores!
    A beacon of Love enlivened,
    Guiding to Heaven’s door.
    Hold out your arms dear mother,
    And keep us in your prayers.
    You loved us like none other
    Through life’s dark thorny fares!
    Each day we miss you mother,
    As we face the world alone;
    We’ll tread the path you showed us,
    Someday you’ll see us home!
    Rest deep your race is over,
    You’ve won a glorious crown.
    You’ve been Blessed for ever,
    The House of God you’ve found!

    Justin Sharaf

  22. Afroz Mohsin says:

    Shoaib, i read your article in tribune.com.pk and shared with my colleagues.
    Believe me when i was reading it, feel water in my eyes. Alhamdolillah my parents are alive but unfortunately i am not able to serve them due to distance as i work abroad.
    Any how it was a master piece and gave a ripple effect along my spine with the thought of absence of my Parents. Whenever i speak to my mother on telephone, i feel new energy in my life but when she is down due to some domestic or ailment problem my entire day is ruined.

    May Allah give us strength and above all sanity to return trace of percentage of their efforts which they hay put in for us.

  23. seema khan says:

    sohaib .read ur letter .very touching …i was with my father till he breathed his last ,i lived outstation .my mom said he was waiting for me and asking for me all the time but wen i reached near him he kind of went into peace with himself my mother kept telling him that she z here but he was very calm and couldnt talk much i kept asking him but he remained silent …..as if he was waiting for me & thereafter ,after about three days he went away ,,,slowly slipping away i could feel . . may his soul rest in peace ameen

  24. usman says:

    thats amazing!!!but im not surprised ….mr.sohaib,today my love for my mom is reignited…thanx a lot!!ur mom really must be an incredible woman…may ALLAH grant her jannah….Ameen!

  25. Adnan Lodhi says:

    It’s a beautiful article. It brought tears to my eyes. Mothers are really a blessing in our lives. We should appreciate every moment that we get to spend with them because a mother can replace every relationship but no relationship can ever replace a mother. The amount of love and mercy she has in her heart is indescribable and that is the reason she has heaven under her feet.

  26. hadirkhan says:

    اللہ آپ کی والدہ محترمہ کو جنّت ال فردوس میں جگہ عطا فرماییں – اللہ ہم سب کو اپنے ماں باپ کی عزت اور فرمانبرداری کرنے والا بنا دے

  27. Aiman Khurram says:

    This was really nice.

  28. Sarah says:

    I can completely relate to you having lost my mother a month and a half back and having witnessed the same concern in her eyes and her words…. In fact in her last days it was my gauge for telling if she is feeling even the slightest bit ok… For she was always concerned about what I had eaten …. That’s just the way moms are… Their love and prayers remain with us forever … I never felt this pain abd fear of having no one who loves me unconditionlly when my father passed away. My mother had enough love in her to substitute an army of a family and friends… What u did here is a salute that your mother deserved u are her witness a woman this great needs to be remembered and respected long after she has gone… To have realized her greatness you have achieved the level as closest to doing her justice as is posible for a child.

  29. Afia Mansoor says:

    So beautiful! thank you so much for writing this down…for many like me, it will bring back some beautiful memories of what our mothers meant to us and what we meant to them.

  30. Zuhaib says:

    Brother, the article gave me tears, my parents are alive and I always pray for their health. Just recently I have moved to Australia from Pakistan and I couldn’t imagine life without them. Although, I talk to them quite often but I know for sure that my mother is down as I have moved… I hope Allah bless you, your family and your parents up there.

  31. Fauzia Mohamed says:

    Very touching. Reminds me of my late mother. May Allaah swt grant you peace and grant His mercy to your parents and reunite you all in al Firdaws…Allaahumma ameen.

  32. sasha cruz says:

    Hey Sohaib, my mom expired in 87 when I was barely 16, why dont I remember my mom’s last words, seems they are so deeply buried & after decades I fear they are gonna hurt too much!
    Today I myself am a mom, still trying to be as great a mother as she was for me. Inspite of spending just 16 years with her, most of being busy with my own life, so many moments & teachings are still so fresh in my mind! Maybe she squeezed all her heart & teachings within those few years so that I could continue & forge ahead without her knowing how important I was to her!
    Moms across boundaries & borders are same na?

  33. Elizabeth Chandy says:

    Cont’d from before…..
    My father refused to see her in that stage so between my two brothers,me and my two sisters in law and our maid, we took turns………….I met her only twice in the CCU…..The last time I met her I bid her goodbye…..I told her that she could go but also told her that she will have to be with me always…….
    She went two days after that…….I knew she was waiting for me to tell her bye and only then she’d be able to leave in peace …..Just like when in school (due to my stubborn insistence I wanted to be in hostel for one year in my 9th grade inspite of being in the same place as all my friends were there !!!!!) when my parents came to drop me off first in hostel , Amma couldnt stop crying while I was waiting to run so that I could be with my friends…..So I told her please go I’ll be fine!…….
    It has been two years plus and since then every here and now she makes her presence felt in my life……Be it in the way of removing obstacles from my path or in granting me small requests and prayers and in other ways that cannot be expressed……
    I know your article is about your mothers last words to you but mine is about my last words to her!!!!!Rest assured both our mothers are in heaven right next to God still worrying whether we are eating right or not!!!!!

    • Sohaib Alvi says:

      ‘Thank you Elizabeth. I’m sure your mother understood and blesses you from above still for all that you did for her.

      • sana says:

        I can.relate.too
        Lost my mother.4.months.back. spending.25 years.with her were.just too.less. I.miss her bad. I want her to.come back
        My mama was also in icu in.her last days
        May.Allah.bless u.

      • Sohaib Alvi says:

        Ameen and thank you Sana. May Allah bless your mother too. Your wound is fresh. May Allah give you peace and your mother a place in Jannah. Ameen

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