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


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