My mother, Charlotte McCracken, spoke these words to me during a lengthy battle with breast cancer. The disease had reduced a once vibrant and beautiful woman to a withered shell of her former self. She had remained positive and hopeful throughout her struggle, generic but now her spirit was wavering as she sensed the end was drawing near.
Mom shared these same words with her sister Barbara, who had arrived from Arizona. Though they lived miles apart, their hearts were always one. They enjoyed a special bond that continued throughout their lives. The following loving moments shared by these two sisters left an indelible mark on all who loved my mother, and the promise to bring that same “love” to those who face the same mirror.
Aunt Barbara sat Mom in a chair before her mirror and said, “let’s play.” Mom, with drooping shoulders and barely enough energy to sit up, sat with eyes closed as Aunt Barbara began working her magic. A little powder here and there, a gentle brush of rouge to her cheeks, a touch of eye shadow, a lightly penciled brow, and a wisp of mascara were all sealed with a kiss to Mom’s forehead.
As my mother opened her eyes, she was amazed at what she saw. With a big smile and much joy on her face, she exclaimed, “I look pretty, take my picture!” Aunt Barbara gently dressed her with scarves, hats, and an old fur cape. As the two laughed and “played” the sickness seemed to take a short recess. Mom was rejuvenated! This memorable day left us with pictures of the warm beautiful woman with a confident smile, the face that greeted me all my life.
As the last photo was snapped, mother looked up at my aunt and said, “Promise me that you will do this for others when I am gone. No one really cares how you look when you’re sick.” The two sisters hugged, and with tears mingled with love my aunt spoke two simple words that have become the catalyst for so much more to come…”I promise”, she said.
Since that special day, Aunt Barbara has followed through on her promise. What began as a tender moment between two loving sisters has evolved into the Face In The Mirror Foundation.
Through the Face In The Mirror Foundation, we endeavor to share that same moment of joy with other women who struggle with what they see in their own mirror. It is our dream that like my mother, they will once again recognize themselves, smile and exclaim.
“the face in the mirror…is still me!”
Dr. Dennis McCracken
ER Physician, Song Writer, and Author – Nashville, Tennessee