When Your Friend’s Mom Is So Much More Than Just Your Friend’s Mom

When your friend's mom dies and she's so much more than your friend's mom.

Please help me.

I need a word.

A word we don’t have in English.

One that we really need.

That I need.

Today.

For today is a sad day.

My friend’s mom has passed away.

A woman I’ve known more than 30 years.

A woman who has made me laugh.

Made me feel loved.

A woman who has suffered with illness far too long.

So, perhaps, it is not sad that she is gone,

That chapter closed.

But it is sad for those of us left behind.

And so, Dear Reader, perhaps you see the word I need.

So many of us need.

A word that means, “parent of your dear friend.”

It’s not “Mom” or “Aunt,” and it really can’t just be “parent of my friend.”


I need a word that does justice to this special relationship.

One that doesn’t get talked about a lot.

Have you had someone like this in your life, Dear Reader?

That friend’s parent with whom you’ve formed your own connection.

Your friend’s parent who was safe haven when you were growing up in a home that was less than stable.

That friend’s parent who could listen when perhaps your own couldn’t.

Who can gave you widsom.

A different perspective.

Love.

Who maybe changed your life?

And of course, the reverse appreciation is true, as well.

After all, one person’s annoying, crazy mother can be my delight.

After all, she’s not MY mother.

Your daughter’s friend can mean a chance to feel appreciated.

Loved.

Celebrated.

I’m finding I need this word a lot.

Last week, it was Stella.

The mother of my friend, Cater, who I met as we toiled in local news in Phoenix.

When a friend's mom dies. When friend of a mom is more than friend of a mom.

Stella Lee, one of a kind, and mom of my friend, Cater.

Stella, as Southern as sweet tea and moonshine.

Who could take my nickname, Dak, push it out through her gravelly smoker’s voice turning it into four syllables.

“Daa-aaa–aaa—k,” she’d say as she’d beckon me over to get squished in a giant bear hug.

And today, it is Genie.

The mother of my college roommate, Heidi.

Genie Wollenberg, who taught me the incredible lesson that it's never too late to go for your dreams. At age of 59, she picked up from Bay Area and moved to a 400 acre ranch in Texas fulfilling her lifelong dream of becoming a rancher.

Genie Wollenberg, who taught me the incredible lesson that it’s never too late to go for your dreams. At age of 59, she picked up from Bay Area and moved to a 400 acre ranch in Texas fulfilling her lifelong dream of becoming a rancher.

Genie, who didn’t hesitate to ask tough questions whether it be about politics, questionable dating choices or my career.

These are not the first parents of friends I will lose.

We’ve been losing people since high school.

And, as my friends and I plow through our 50’s, it’s simply inevitable the pace will pick up.

Lots of our parents to say, “goodbye” to.

To appreciate.

To love the specialness.

So you see, I’m looking for a word.

I so desperately want that word.

The one that means, “Thank you for simply being you. For making room for me in your heart. For caring so much about the new job, the guy who broke my heart, the blessing of my marriage.

For our special connection,

Separate from my friendship with your daughter.

For your time.

For your support.

For your love.

I don’t have the word to describe what you were to me, but my, oh my I am so lucky, so thankful, so blessed to have had you.”

(((Please catch my column each week in The Atlanta Journal Constitution, The Dayton Daily News and other Cox Newspapers across the country.)

And if you like my column about friendship, you might like my book–

“Hope Possible: A Network News Anchor’s Thoughts On Losing Her Job, Finding Love, A New Career, And My Dog, Always My Dog.”

final front cover

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When Your Friend’s Mom Is So Much More Than Just Your Friend’s Mom

by DarynKagan time to read: 3 min
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