On June 12, 2012, my mother passed away.

Mom engaged a brief, but brave and spirited war waged against cancer.  While it was ultimately the reason she’s no longer with us, it never succeeded in changing who she was, and it will never be able to strip us of our memories.

For weeks now, we’ve rallied behind her, and in response she’s shown us bravery, dedication, determination, and an eternal spirit.  I forever consider myself a better human being for being blessed to have Nan Hinds as my mother.  She was an incredible lady, and no words can do her  justice in explaining how important she was to so many of us.

We saw an incredible turnout at both the visiting hours and the funeral, and were touched by the outpouring of support for mom.  Scott and I were both privileged enough to be able to provide a eulogy for her, which I’m publishing below.

Here is Scott’s:

In April – the last time that mom was home – the four of us (mom and dad; Todd and me) sat down for a surreal but actually wonderful conversation about things most people never have to – or get a chance to – talk about. Mostly, it was about how she wanted to be remembered. None of us wanted to do it; it was uncomfortable and scary and painful. But it gave mom some closure, and a sense that she was taking some things off of our hands (which is the way she’d always wanted). And it also gave us a chance to hear what was important to her for once. But that day I also made her a promise that there was one family secret that I wouldn’t be able to keep after she was gone.

You see, I was told from the time I could talk that our family – which really meant she – hated country music. Todd and I brought home Eminem and Snoop Dogg and Metallica records and she was totally cool; she didn’t love it at all, but she trusted us to make our own mistakes. But I honestly don’t know if I would have been allowed back in the house with a Willie Nelson album (and I wasn’t going to try it). So here’s the truth – that I didn’t figure out until very recently: My mom LOVED country music. She loved Alabama, and the Oak Ridge Boys, and the Statler Brothers. Not long ago I even took her iPod and looked at the play counts, and it was all Zac Brown and Kenny Chesney at the top. And when I asked her about it, she still said she hated country music. And then she wouldn’t talk about it. And for the life of me I don’t understand why – because believe me, the stuff she admitted to liking was sooooo much worse than the stuff she denied.

And I have no idea what that means, or why she did it. And that story really has nothing to do with anything. But maybe what I love about it is that it’s one of the only quirks that I know my mom had that just didn’t make any sense. She was a beautifully uncomplicated woman – and I mean that in a wonderful way. She gave all of herself to the people in her life, and never once had an ulterior motive. She didn’t play politics (didn’t even want to listen to us talk politics); she didn’t play favorites; she didn’t play both sides; she didn’t play mind games. She wasn’t cynical or angry and genuinely looked for the good in everyone around her. She loved unconditionally, served those in need and never asked for or expected anything in return.

In some ways, my mom’s death was as uncomplicated and awful as her life was uncomplicated and beautiful. She got a terrible disease, and she died from it. It would be easier if there was someone or something to be angry at; to hate; to blame. But to hate “cancer” just feels empty, it’s not enough. My mom deserves more. What I’m clinging to is that there was one blessing in this tragedy. I really believe – and I think everyone here would agree with me – that mom had no idea what an amazing person she was. But the wonderful thing is that as the cards, and letters, and pictures, and “NSH” sticker sightings around the country poured in to her in Alabama over the last few months, I think maybe – just maybe – my humble mother finally saw how many lives she’d touched; how loved she was; how much more wonderful a place she left the world than what she found

I’m so glad that Emma and Becca and Patrick and Sam are old enough to remember her forever. That’s the least of what she deserves. Today is a very difficult day. But I’m doing my best to remember what a preschool teacher taught my kids: “you get what you get, and you don’t fuss a bit” Because I’ve got nothing to cry about today – I was blessed with almost 34 years with the greatest mother I could have ever had. To complain that I didn’t get more than that would just be greedy.  I’m so sad for her about the things she won’t get to see; I’m sad for my kids for the things that they aren’t going to get to share with her. But me? And Michelle? And Todd? And Jess? And Dad? For all the years we got with her, we’re the lucky ones. So thanks for being here, and thanks for loving my mom like we did.

– Scott Hinds, 06/19/2012


Before I get into most of my final thoughts, I’d like to tell everyone my favorite mom story of all time.

After years of having a very simple cell phone, mom was very excited when she got a free upgrade to a Droid Smart Phone.  For days she’d call talking about how excited she was to enter the 21st century, and that she was getting a “Droid Special Edition RD2D something or other phone.”  Unbeknownst to her, she had just purchased a Star Wars special edition phone, which was made to look like R2D2.

She had problems with the phone from the get go.  Every time we would talk, she’d spend the first 15 seconds trying to figure out if she was actually connected, and then the next 10 minutes complaining about the phone.  She never really knew if anyone was there, and constantly complained that she couldn’t hear people clearly, and that no one could seem to understand her.  Despite her constant issues with dropped calls, and failed text messages, she never wanted to do anything to fix the issue.

This went on for months.  She began referring to her phone as possessed and was getting increasingly angry with the random beeping noises it would make (these noises turned out to be the specially programmed R2D2 noises).

Finally, after months of my poor mother having to put up with this, dad and I hit a breaking point, and insisted that she buy an iPhone, with me selling her Droid on eBay.  When she sent me the phone to sell, I finally and instantly recognized the problem.

Her R2D2 special edition phone, which she couldn’t hear anyone on, couldn’t be heard from, and had major connectivity issues … was still entirely wrapped in the plastic permacell.  You know, the sticky plastic wrapping around new electronics to keep it safe during shipping.  The permacell was still wrapped around the microphone and the earpiece and there was even still one piece completely encasing the internal antenna, which actually had a blue pull tab that read “Remove before use” which mom clearly never removed.

After selling the phone on eBay, the buyer left feedback saying, “Thrilled with the phone.  Looks brand new and is even still wrapped in the permacell.”

I tell this story lovingly, but I think it is somewhat reflective of mom.  She never wanted to be a bother or an imposition.  She never wanted the spotlight cast upon her, and never wanted any special attention.

Most of you know mom was a teacher by trade… but her love of teaching extended far beyond the classroom.  I can safely say that she’s taught me many of the qualities I’m proudest of.

She taught me to be an adult.  She showed me the right ways and the wrong ways to behave.

She taught me about courage.  She showed true courage when she walked into the home of a mother grieving the loss of her son.  Mom barely knew the woman, but going in that day was the right thing to do and mom wanted to be there to lend an ear when it was needed most.

For weeks now, so many people have rallied behind her, and she taught us about loyalty.  She fought despite how hard it was and how bleak the prognosis was out of a continued sense of dedication to those cheering her on.

She taught me toughness.  Toughness far beyond what was possible in a gym, on a football field, or in a boxing ring.  She took incredibly rigorous bouts of chemo ad bounced back with a resiliency and a determination that I can honestly say I’ve never seen before, and wonder whether I’ll ever get the privilege of seeing again.

She taught me how to love and she taught me what undying devotion meant.  Her love for dad, for her kids, her grandchildren and all her family has made all of us better people for ever knowing it.

She taught me how to be a husband.

She’s taught me how to be a father.

She taught me how to live,… and in the last few weeks, when there’s been nothing left to teach, she still found a way, and she’s taught us all how to die.  She showed her unwavering grace and dignity until her final moments, and the most honorable way to leave without ever losing who you are.

I’ve gone back to a familiar refrain a few times now, and there is a quote from Jim Valvano which applies to mom:

“Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities, but it cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul, and those three things are going to carry on forever.”

Cancer never touched her heart.

Cancer never touched her mind.

Cancer never touched her soul.

And without hesitation, those three things are going to carry on forever.

Thank you.

– Todd Hinds 06/19/2012

For those interested, you can see her obituary here, on the Desmond’s Funeral Home website.

My mom fought for each and every one of us in the past 5 months.  She fought for every NSH sticker, every email, every card, every text message and every prayer.  The support we’ve seen from the community that knew and loved mom has helped everyone through this.  Thank you all for everything you did for us, and for her.

With genuine love and appreciation


My weekend with mom

I know updates have been few and far between of late.  I’ve said it before, and it still rings true today, that I simply have a hard time coming up with positive vibe in my posts when the reality is so far from that for me.  I guess that everlasting positivity is one trait that Nan never passed on to me.

Rather than paint a pretty, yet unrealistic picture, I decided to be honest with where Mom is at, both the positive and the negative.

Pancreatic cancer is a miserable bastard of a disease, and there’s no two ways around it.

A hospice nurse has started coming weekly.  She’s set mom up with a few different devices to help her out around the apartment,  and helped dad with the overwhelmingly complicated task of managing her meds. Their hospice nurse Kelly has been invaluable in this role to help coordinate next steps, keep dad appraised of the situation, and provide a momentary relief from the omnipresent reality in which he faces.  She’s been tremendous in making small observations of mom indicative of further signs of her conditions progression, while also tipping him off to what’s likely to be coming next.

You know, I haven’t written a whole lot about dad on here, but he deserves more credit for what he’s doing than anyone will ever know.  He is  there for her every request.  He has become the bill payer, the care taker, the scheduler, the newsgiver, the chef, the maid, the provider:  he has firmly entrenched himself into roles he never expected he’d have to take on this early.  He deserves so much credit, and a flimsy blog post seems borderline insulting as a way to commend what he’s done.

I saw a side of him this weekend that wasn’t surprising per se, but was also reflective of the evolution he’s made in the last few months.  After my wife Jess said goodbye to mom Sunday night for what may be the final face to face goodbye, he immediately sought her out to give her a hug, and whisper a brief few words to her.  He was comforting, he was calm, he was respectful, he was real.  I’m certainly not suggesting he’s never been capable of these things, but it was a display I don’t think anyone gets used to.  Every time mom gets me on the phone, she tells me how proud of dad she is, as though she’s trying to coax me into feeling the same thing.  Only problem there is that I already am proud of him.


Facing mortality has been a fascinating exploration into human beings.  Passing no judgement at all, some do not know what to say, and therefore choose to say little.  Some don’t know how to react and ignore it altogether.  Hell, I’ve reflected those traits myself, and most people tell me I never shut up.  There are also more incredible people than we can count.  We’ve seen more tremendous outpouring of love and support than frankly we knew existed in her and our social circles.  Mom has three of the most incredible friends who have worked out a schedule to stay with her round the clock Monday through Friday while dad still puts in his 40 hours a week (which is yet another tremendous feat I didn’t touch on above).  Mary Farabee, Jane Woolford, and Jackie Faulkingham  are three of moms friends from her short time down in Alabama, but have shown true commitment, and helped to remind us of the definition of true friendship in their spirit and assistance throughout all of this. As dad just said to me in a text message: “They are doing it because they want to, but to us they are true angels on earth.”

As for the namesake of the page you’re on:


It has been a month since I saw mom, and I was up early Saturday morning.  I wanted to knock out some work before anyone else was up, and so I sat at their kitchen table clacking away on my laptop.  I had a direct line of sight into their bathroom, and even before she had come out for the morning, I saw mom in the bathroom, brushing her hair, and her teeth and flossing.  There was something about continuing those simple routines that most of us find annoying (my hand is raised on that one), that mom is clinging to.  She’s keeping her sanity by maintaining her routine, and keeping her appearance and dignity. I may have picked on her a little bit for that, but I get it.

The cancer has physically advanced, though it will never, and can never win.  She broke my heart when she would cover her stomach all weekend, so embarrassed by the swelling brought upon by the hell being unleashed inside of her.  She talked about how she used to have a flat stomach, and “now she looks pregnant” (her words, to be clear,… not mine).  She’s still concerned with her appearance, not willing to take the free pass when one is more than readily available for her.

Mom spends a lot of time on the couch, and has set herself up for comfort.  She keeps pictures of dad, Scott and I on the table, while pictures of the kids are readily seen from any possible eyeline she could make from the couch.  She keeps some cards, a photo book, and a stack of thank you notes ready to write for whenever she can muster the energy.  She also has a hand-sewn Becca Hinds created “Unmotivated Kid,” there to remind her of the reason she continues to keep her spirits up.  She watches a lot of nonsense TV; TV that will keep her attention, but also doesn’t matter a whole lot if she slips in and out of a nap.  I tried introducing Dog The Bounty Hunter, but was met with patient (ok, maybe patronizing) “Oh, that’s interesting.”  Though if we’re revealing secrets,… mom has fallen in love with a show called “Monsters-In-Law.”  Everyone has their own trashy TV shows I guess.

Eating has become a challenge.  Her appetite is all but vanquished, and her tolerance for various flavors and textures is an ever changing concept.  That still doesn’t stop her from acting and raving like she’s eating at five star restaurant when Jess made a couple deviled eggs.  She has passed the cooking reins to dad, and the best cook I’ve ever known now swears up and down that dad has apparently been the better chef all along.  What she can eat, she eats sparsely, though she did ask for IHOP French Toast by name Sunday morning, and ate three whole (half) pieces.  So there was that…

Mom spent most of the weekend asking Jess how we were, and what is on our horizon.  We shared an incredible moment Sunday after dinner, one that’s going to stick with all of us forever.  A sad Patrick called Sunday not knowing how much longer he’d be playing hockey for, and Grammie spent a half hour trying to counsel her older grandson and let him know everything would be ok.  From my experience, I have no question he got off the phone feeling a little better than when he got on the phone.

Long story short:  Nothing is different, and nothing is the same.  I’m so incredibly and profoundly sad for what she’s going through, yet so incredibly and profoundly proud of how she’s doing this.

This is without question my favorite picture of mom.  This is a legitimately candid picture taken by Michelle when she came across this Kodak heartwarming scene.  If I’m remembering the story right, she was sweeping up in the kitchen when one of the quads came crawling up to her.  She went down to the floor with one, and before she knew it, three more were crawling over clamoring for Grammie’s attention.  There’s always been something about that picture that I’ve loved.  Maybe it’s the smirk on Emma’s face because she was the one that won the race to get a hug from Grammie…. maybe it’s Becca forcing her way onto the lap as well.  It could be Patrick climbing up her legs, or Sammy just chilling out…. or it could be Grammie.

That’s mom.  People come to her with good or bad, and she maintains everything about who she is.  When Patrick called Sunday night, he got the Grammie long before cancer ever came into the picture and she’d never let it happen any other way.

My weekend with mom ran the emotional spectrum.  I laughed because she’s kept her fantastic sense of humor and would still take a sarcastic shot at me when I deserved it.  I cried when I saw the physical toll this has taken, and the efforts that go into the mundane of every day.  I thought a lot, especially when having to ask if she will ever see Jess again.  And I smiled a lot when I saw my regular ol’ mom.  Physical changes aside, it’s still just mom with that constant decree of “Cancer doesn’t change who she is,” ringing more true than ever before.

I will be down to see her again, and I’m sure there will be more visible effects,…. but I can also guarantee you that it’ll still be the same mom,… and that’s frankly all anyone could ever want.