Serena: Moments with My Mother Marguerite

Serena: Moments with My Mother Marguerite

I still remember the conversation I had with my mother Marguerite in January 2009 as if it was yesterday. At that time I lived in Dallas, Texas and my mother was at our home in Queens, New York. I had relocated to Texas after living in the Alexandria, Virginia area for 9 years. She told me that she wasn't feeling well, and even though she was experiencing menopause, it just felt a little deeper than that. Later in the conversation she asked, “Why don't you move back to the east coast to be closer to me?” I thought and prayed over it, and before you knew it, I had submitted my resignation letter and was making plans to move back to the east by the beginning of July. On July 9th, 2009 I was back in Alexandria. As days went on, my mother felt more fatigued and had weakness of legs and a lot of abdominal pain; one month to the day after moving, she admitted herself into the hospital and received a Stage IV ovarian cancer diagnosis. I went from being her 34-year-old daughter making plans for our next cruise to being her caregiver and health proxy, making all the decisions, alongside my aunt, about my mother's care.

I was honored to be able to take care of my mother. My mother took care of everyone but herself. I had dreams of her living a long life and us traveling, and had an array of wonderful plans in store for our future. I learned a lot about the medical field and all kinds of terminology that I never thought in my lifetime I would ever have to talk about, like cancer antigen levels, various medications, chemo treatments—the list goes on. I commuted back and forth to New York from Virginia every weekend, only missing a couple of weekends here and there. We talked almost every day until chemo brain set in after her first treatment and she forgot my number. There were times where it was painful for her to talk, and I had to understand that, being her caregiver.

After the second round of chemotherapy, my mother decided to have no more chemo, and I had to accept her decision. We decided at that moment that moving forward, we would just talk about good times and memories that we shared. We talked about my 30th birthday cruise that we’d gone on together, and I found our Disney World passes from 1989, where we saw all the theme parks in a week, and talked about that vacation. We would talk about TV shows; she loved watching Oprah and Ellen, and she always wanted to talk about President Barack Obama. We didn't ignore the fact that she had a cancer diagnosis and that she was dying, but she said these were her last days, and she wanted to remain as positive as possible. I remember tender moments when I would rub her feet and massage her legs to assist with circulation, since she was unable to move them as swiftly as she used to, and get her food and anything to drink. She would ask for her favorite snacks, and I would find them and we would share them while watching a funny show. My mother always had a smile at the end of every visit, and she would tell me, “Take good care, Serena, and thank you,” and end off with our affectionate terms, “I love you bub.”

Even though I was taking care of her, she was still my mother, even in the sick bed. She would ask me when was the last time I had eaten, and she noticed that I was losing weight and the bags underneath my eyes from sleep deprivation. She was worried about me, and I had to do better as a caregiver by taking care of myself. I signed myself up for individual counseling and a support group in Virginia through the Life with Cancer Center. I went to church every Wednesday for Bible Study and had a team of prayer warriors always praying for us. I had to make sure I ate, stay hydrated and try to get as much sleep as possible, which was very hard. I also started running again weekly. I realized later on that I can't be an effective caregiver for her if I'm not taking care of myself.

The day my mother died, I spent hours in the hospital by her side. Instead of talking about all of the papers and forms that I had to fill out before visiting her, we decided to sip on our favorite Snapple iced tea and look through my baby book and talk about more good memories. She talked a lot that day and I just listened. She told me that I was going to be a good mother to her future grandchildren and her prayers for me was to live life to the fullest and for God to lead a great man to me who I would call my husband one day. She died later that night, on February 19th, 2010, but she was at peace. Even though I didn't want to see her go, I knew it would be selfish of me to want her to stay in the condition she was in. We were very close and best friends beyond this world but we became even closer when I became her caregiver.

I decided to write my poetry book “Crying Tears of Teal” after writing poetry at her bedside to keep myself sane and in a calm state while taking care of her. My book came to fruition and I finally published it September 2017. I wrote my poems from a caregiver's perspective. I had no idea that this would be a book, but I wanted to share with everyone not only what I went through as a caregiver and what I observed my mom going through, but some other stories from those battling ovarian cancer and survivors. I wrote a poem that I'm sharing with all of you titled, “Regaining Momentum;” this is what my mom had envisioned for herself if she healed from cancer.

Be blessed and thank you for allowing me to share a little bit about what it was like to be my mom's caregiver. Marguerite "Sauti" Wills...I love you forever more.

Regaining Momentum

Borderline of life and death

Shining light on my face

Arms extended to me

Loved ones who don’t want to see me in pain or distress

Wanting my body to heal

I hear my daughter’s voice that has passed on

Telling me, “Mommy I miss you.”

I walk towards her into the light

Then it hit me

My work isn’t done here yet

Hands haven’t touched all those that God has set out for me to love

Mind thinking overtime

Which way do I go

Do I walk towards my beloved child that passed away just three years ago

Or make an about face to my family that still needs me

Grandchild that isn’t born yet that wants a grandma

Eldest daughter screaming, “Mama don’t go, please wake up out of this dream”

Sitting straight up

Legs moving

Toes wiggling

Chest pains no more

Pinching myself

God told me at the end of the dream

It’s not your time to move on with us

Your daughter and loved ones are willing to wait for you on this side

Go back to the other and become healed

Touch more lives

Love more children

And be a mother like never before

For the first time in months

I stood to my feet

Walked over to the curtains

And tore them open

Sun shining on me

Smiling face

Nurses amazed

Doctor looked as if he was going to faint

I’m healed

Ready to make a difference

Like never before

Time to regain momentum

Catch up on lost time

Visit friends and family that have prayed over me

Get that child of mine married off so she can have my grandbaby


Awake and steady

Baby steps to the bathroom

Something so natural that I haven’t done in months

Sitting down feeling relieved

Got up and packed my bags

Turned to the doctors and told them, “I gotta go.”

Checked myself out and hailed down a cab

Home is calling me

Not my heavenly one as they told me…“Not yet”

But my home where my mama awaits me

Daughters who have loved me through and through

Brother and sister who prayed for miracles

I’m alive and well

Regaining strength


Keeping the faith

That I won’t be alone

As thousands will be like me

With cancer no more

Regaining my life

Forming a relationship with God like never before


Loving life faithfully

Living every day like it’s my last


Written by: Serena Wills, from her forthcoming poetry book, “Crying Tears of Teal.”


Serena T. Wills

You can find out more information about Serena's story and book, “Crying Tears of Teal” at or