The deeper my story and journey grows, the more I realize the affect my Mom and her story has had on me.

portrait CICI

My mom learned about the storms of life early on. Growing up in a loving, yet broken and blended Christian family, she weathered many seasons including some marred with alcoholism.  She had to teach herself how to rise above the waves of her childhood, and she gleaned from the positives in her upbringing. THAT was the legacy she would later pass on to her children.

Cheer CICI

I always loved looking at pictures of a younger Cindy.  She was a striking blonde.  She was captain of her cheerleading squad, star of her school plays and a part of GA’s at her church.  She carried a grace with her that was recognizable even in photos.  She married her high school sweetheart and they quickly had 2 girls, Tiffany and me. We benefited from a loving, affectionate and supportive mother, and never questioned how she learned her ways. We assumed as most do, that she grew up in a similar situation as us.

Many years later, for reasons not needed here, my parents divorced.  Mom, Tiffany and I moved south to Tampa.  She quickly re-married and new titles were given.  Life and love were stirred once again.  She rose above the storm that divorce always carries with it. She, and her life kept moving forward.

CICI drink

My mom worked full time for most of her life.  Her faith was strong and she believed in the local church, so she toted us there at least twice a week.  As we got older, she began to find ways to support and cultivate our talents.  For 14 years, she took us to dance 3 days a week with 1 to 3 hours of rehearsals a day. She never missed a recital, a competition, or a show. She gave her time, her money, her vacations—all for us to pursue our dreams. Then we added cheerleading, theatre and singing to the mix.

Life was hard, fast, busy, full, and healthy.  We learned how to take it on with full force.

She taught us it was okay to be a strong, assertive, feisty, passionate, hard –working woman.  She made her mistakes, owned those mistakes, and grew from them. She taught us the beauty of being independent.  She was a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on. She was the voice of reason at times and the strength of empathy at others.  She gave up so much of herself as she poured into us.  She supported. She was our biggest fan and our hardest critic.

Now, she has moved from Mom and friend into her most beloved title: “CiCi”.  Grandma was not the correct title when we started having our own children. But CiCi, short for Cindy, is just perfect.  She no longer works for corporate America, but she does work full time as CiCi.  She watches and cares for my children while Ben and I are working or traveling. She is the first on the trampoline and the first in the pool, and they love her as much as I do.

CiCi has become the name not only the grandchildren call her, but MOST call her. Yet it’s not the title that has earned her respect and place in so many lives. It’s her relationship, her example, and her countenance. She is open hearted, without judgment, and willing to stand for others. She is a hand to hold, and can laugh at herself and life when needed.  She pours a nice glass of wine, eats cupcakes for breakfast and still goes to TaeBo with me.  She’s the first on the guest list of a party and knows the importance of letting go and having fun.  She is the 3rd parent at times, doting grandmother at others, but friend always.

She has led a life of love and of strength, sometimes quiet and sometimes loud.  She has given me an example of service.  She has taught me how to take life and either savor it, or grow from it.  She has taught me about what it means to keep moving forward. She rides the waves of life, relishes in the beauty of it, weathers the storms that come, and fights to rise above.  She jumps in feet first knowing that sometimes the water is cold, dark, deep, shallow, rough, or even docile.  All the while knowing the secret is that abundant life is always moving, pushing us towards growth, and also towards finding enjoyment.

Mother's Day CICI

Her birthday is coming up on June 2nd, and although she’d kill me for disclosing her age (ha), I wanted her to know how unbelievably thankful I am for her.  I hope by hearing a little of her story, you are reminded (as I have been) of those who have impacted your life, and what an impact our lives, our choices and our responses have on others.

How can we live more intentionally?
For CiCi it is no question – she lives, and does, for others. And she is fulfilled in doing so.

So a very Happy Birthday to CiCi, my Mom, my friend.  I love you.
I’m proud to be on this journey of life with you!


  1. What a beautiful tribute! Love to all the Mamas.

  2. Lovely!! Thanks so much for putting these words out in this space, Melissa. A good mom is a great, great gift.

    • Diana – I appreciate that. I was hesitant if this was for DS but I’ve been assured it is. best!

  3. Laura

    A gorgeous piece on your mom. I lost mine 23 years ago when I was 30 and I adored her. It’s nice to see a daughter loving and appreciating her mother so much. The legacy will be long lasting through your children as a result of it.

    • Oh Laura, I cannot imagine. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I am sure you keep her legacy alive as well. best to you and yours.

  4. Tercelina

    Very beautiful!!! May God continue to bless Ms. Cici. Surely she is a Prov. 31 woman. God bless you


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