Charlotte Mae McCracken, my sister, lost her battle with breast cancer in 2004. In visiting, I noticed her sitting with, shoulders drooped and spirits gone. I suggested we "play" by giving her a facial makeover and she said, "you can't help me look better," I said "yes I can" she smiled and accommodated me. I began by adding a little color to her lips, eyebrows, and cheeks. I brushed her wig and said to her "now look at you!" she looked at herself in the mirror and said, "I look pretty, take my picture". She was rejuvenated, I was thrilled! In the midst of our celebrating and taking photos she stopped and said "promise me you will do this for others" and I ask why, her words still haunt me today, "because no one cares what you look like when you're sick" I made her that promise and Face In The Mirror was born.
Face In The Mirror began in March of 2004 as a 501©3 giving Hope Beyond Cancer. Since that day, over 50 thousand have been visited. The Mission continues today and somehow, I think she sees it and smiles.
In loving memory,
A Son’s Memories
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, 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 – Phoenix, AZ