Heart Signs

Sunrise Iris
Sunrise Iris, 12X12, oil


This is the week we honor our Moms, and it’s been two years since mine went to Heaven. I spent most of my life preparing myself for the day I would lose her, because I intuited that it would be the event from which I would never recover. Now that I’m on the other side of the heartbreak, I find myself rejoicing in her memories, instead of crying. I’m thankful, and still relieved, for this, and wonder if it is strength or simply numbness. The last two years of her life were spent in hospice, in a hospital bed in her home, with my three sisters and I taking turns caring for her, along with the help of a night nurse. My evenings with Mom were on Tuesdays, and I remember reading poetry to her (Shel Silverstein was a favorite), playing old records from the 1950s for her, and watching her favorite shows with her (Ellen and Wheel of Fortune). She used to save up programs she recorded for me each week that she wanted me to see, and keep a list of books she wanted me to read. (Tuesdays with Morrie comes to mind).

My Mother was the sun and her daughters were her satellites, our lives were intertwined not only with hers, but with one another. I realize now that I am older how rare and beautiful it is, to have this female cohesiveness, this love, among siblings. It’s her legacy. Shortly after she passed, I was scheduled to teach in Italy, and recall standing at the top of a hill in a vineyard, and seeing a large, heart-shaped hole that had naturally formed in the bushes before me. The sunset shone through the space, and I was bathed in a golden light for a few moments as the day drew to a close. I decided this was a small sign that she was still with me.

That’s when the heart signs first began appearing.


Over the past year, instead of seeing less hearts, I see them everywhere. Dozens have appeared and sometimes it is a daily occurrence. I began documenting them, because their frequency was clearly one of two things – either wishful thinking on my part or something completely unexplainable.

While filming in Santa Fe, New Mexico, last fall, just outside the front door of the cottage was a bench covered with heart-shaped rocks. I’ve shared a picture of that with you here. A month ago, while teaching in Fredericksburg, Texas, a sign hung in our bed and breakfast with a very simple message: “Relax, relax, relax,” signed with a heart and the initials: EB. My Mother’s name was Elsie Becker. There is rarely a week that goes by that I don’t receive one of these love notes from my Mom, in the shape of what she represents most. She is and always will be my heartbeat and my soul, my stubborn, guiding angel and the compass that carries me through every crashing wave that lifts or drowns me in this life.

I have so many friends now who have recently lost their Moms, or are caring for their Mothers in the twilight of their journeys. Focus on the good memories, breathe them in deeply and bathe your mind in those moments, this will keep you afloat, long after she is gone. And take comfort in your sisters, they may not be your blood sisters, but you are surrounded by strong women who want to love and comfort you, and who have been through what you are experiencing. Ask for help when you need it. You are not alone in this. And finally, watch for the signs. They are there if you choose to see them.

this is the recipe of life
said my mother
as she held me in her arms as i wept
think of those flowers you plant
in the garden each year
they will teach you
that people too
must wilt
in order to bloom.
– rupi kaur


Santa Fe heart rocks
Heart rocks outside my cottage in Santa Fe, New Mexico

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A Joyful Brush Lesson – Heavenly Hope Hydrangeas, 20X16



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Nancy Medina

Nancy is a master signature artist and instructor with over 1800 online students from around the world. She has worked with Disney, served on the art faculty of the Dallas Arboretum, and teaches workshops in France, Italy and across the US. More about Nancy

Reader Interactions


    • Thanks Jan, I can’t wait to meet your mom in France! I am expecting great things… 🙂

  1. Nancy blessings to you,Sister. I have my parents. I want to underline your statement about not being alone. I have no siblings, but my women friends are treasures. Thank you for sharing.

  2. So moving, Nancy. Thank you for sharing The special bond between you and your mom and sisters. For two years now I’ve been blessed to live two doors down from my mom and dad. They are almost 80 and thankfully in good health. I’m soaking in the afternoons on my porch with them and Mom’s delicious meals, for I know the memories will be treasured in the years to come.

    • Kim please give your Mom a hug for me and tell her she has a wonderful daughter! xo

  3. As always your mother shines through your words. My mothers died years ago. I was adopted after my biological mother ran away with her boyfriend, leaving 10 kids, and then died in a car accident. I was 8. Then the mother that adopted me died when I was in my twenties, with two kids of my own. To this day when something good happens I think to myself, “I’ll have to call mom and tell her about that” and then I remember… We never forget, no matter what. I loved them both and they live in my heart in different ways. Thank you for sharing yours with us.

    • Gini that must have been difficult, losing two Moms. I suspect that is why you are so strong. Thank you for sharing that, sending you a hug…

  4. I read a quote online recently…something like,” Sometimes when I open my mouth, my mother speaks…”
    And isn’t it true for many of us?
    So many thoughts, ideas, habits and etc. are “sprinkled” with Mom’s loving touch

  5. Sweet memories are what sustain us! Thanks for sharing your ‘heart-felt’ journey of love thru grief……you have an eloquent way of expressing your experiences! You are truly blessed to still have your sisters (related & otherwise) to support you in your journey. Love & hugs!

    • Lee that is so true, thank you for reminding me of that, too. Can’t wait to see you next week!

  6. What a beautiful post Nancy. My mom lives in another country now but we talk daily. She is the one person who tells me everyday to follow my dreams and passions (Painting and writing) – in fact, it was her who first pushed me to attend your workshop when I told her about it. I had a million excuses not to go – I said I couldn’t leave my little one behind and go away for a weekend and anything else I could think of! She just said, if you want to learn to paint like that “JUST GO!!” Meet this Nancy and learn from her, you will be better off for it!! Words well said I say…..it is her prayers and love that carries me through life…

    • Oh Shweta, your note just made me cry. Please send my love to your dear Mom. She is a gorgeous soul!

  7. My mom passed in 2008 at the age of 80…she was a porcelain artist with the intent to add to my dad’s family porcelain collection. I stayed with her those last months and as we went thru who she wanted to have what, it came to her china paints and kilns. I had never had any art background but I told her I would take these things and give it a try. Mom’s painted porcelain is so special to me. It took me a couple of years to find a teacher in Texas where we had moved. I will never forget the tears at that first lesson – I so wished she could be there with me! The one thing I do know is that she is always in my heart and is very proud of my efforts with my painting! She would love Nancy’s beautiful lessons! Though the tears still come I am always at peace when I’m painting. I know she is smiling… >^..^<

    • Her talent was in you all along Pat. And her beautiful personality, too. I’m so very thankful to have you as a friend! xo

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