The Silver Lining of My Cloud

The Silver Lining of My Cloud

Growing up I always believed in finding a soul mate, that we would meet each other, and just know that we belonged together. As I neared my thirties and friends, and colleagues began to marry off, I was beginning to wonder if maybe it was not so much about finding “The One”, as finding someone who was a good match, and then just committing to make it work.

At the time I was living in New York City in a fabulous SoHo apartment at the corner of Prince and Thompson. I worked  in film production by day and pursued my Master’s degree in Documentary Film by night. I had great friends in the city and it was in general a fantastic time in my life.  Then we found out that my mother’s breast cancer had metastasized throughout her body, and her health began to fail. She lived alone in my hometown in the house that I grew up in.   I knew I had to move back to take care of her; my brother was married with a wife and baby in another state.  So I left my job, and finished the semester by commuting back and forth from New York to Boston. I was devastated about giving up the life I had built for myself, and moving back into my childhood home, but I knew that in the end, the result of it all was that I would lose my mother, and that the rest I could go back to eventually.  One week in particular she had taken a turn for the worse, so I asked my brother to step in for me while I was away. He noticed swelling in one of her ankles and took her into the Emergency Room that evening.   The young intern who was called down to admit her to the oncology ward caught her fancy.  My mother had been an RN and liked his bedside manner, so she interrupted his questions with one of her own.

Mom: “How old are you?”
Dr.: “30.”
Mom: “Are you available?”
Dr.: “it depends who’s asking”.
Mom: ” I thought you might like to see a picture of my beautiful daughter”.

The Author’s Mother

Here you need to know that my mother was 45 when I was born, so at this point she was 74 years old.
The 30 yr old doctor figured she wanted to show him a picture of her single 50-ish daughter to set him up with, so he replied “let’s get through the medical stuff first, and we’ll have plenty of time to socialize later.”
Her next comment caught him by surprise. “O.K., Your loss” she tossed out, before moving on with the medical exam.

The next morning my aunt who was visiting the hospital somehow got wind of her plan and managed to show him a picture. In that way he was able to recognize me later that morning, as he tells it, swooping into the hospital wing dressed all in black.

He jumped us as I came in and shook my hand, surprising me by greeting me by name “you must be Miss Smith”. Thankfully I did not know what my mother was up to or I would have been mortified, and more so as all through the week she spread her campaign to the nurses.

It wasn’t until the end of the week, when she was about to be discharged to rehab that I came to visit her and the nurse told me she was in the shower room but needed to see me right away.  My mother had been 5’2″ at her peak, she had shrank down to about 4’10” at this point, and when I knocked on the door she cracked it open letting out billows of steam.  Like a swami swathed in white towels she emerged to peak out, and with steam billowing around her  she whispered with urgency, “I need to set you up with my Dr. Atalay!”  I was completely taken aback.

A day later as we said our goodbyes, he moving on to a new rotation, my mother being discharged to rehab, he asked me out on our first date. By the end of that first date I knew that I had been right after all. I knew he was the one.  My mother lived to walk me down the aisle, and to hear the heartbeat of our first child who would be born just three months after she died.

Michael and Elizabeth AtalayI never did go back to New York, but I finished my Masters Degree in Boston, and produced children instead of movies. Four kids and sixteen years later when I think back to that time, I still think of my husband as the silver lining of my cloud.

      Happy Valentine’s Day!

Card created by Jo Abella of http://www.creativewhimzy.com

23 Responses

  1. Liz, I know this story because Maria Mostajo told it to me long ago. I cried when I heard it the first time. I cried when I read it tonight. How blessed with love your life is. Your mother’s love. Your soul mate’s love. Your children’s love. You are so deserving of this love and its abundance. Happy Valentine’s Day, friend. Love, Rana

    • Rana! You are making me cry with this comment! Thank you, I do feel incredibly blessed, and am grateful to my mother for having such a keen intuition! It is a beautiful thing to me how we connect with others through our loved ones, after all, Maria is the the one who led me to meeting you!

    • Carla, Thank you so much! She was always a character! I hope you had a great Valentine’s Day!

  2. Elizabeth, I know this story, yet it still manages to touch my heart. Thanks for sharing your beautiful love story on Valentines Day. Wish I knew your mom, I feel grateful to know her daughter..

  3. I know this story since I was hearing a play by play from my brother — and still I’m crying. You are the sister I always wanted. No surprise I often refer to you guys as my sister and brother-in-law. :) (kidding M). I love this story and I love you so much. You have enriched my life in ways you will never even know. Thank you for giving me four amazing nieces and nephews. xoxo

    • Along with the incredible blessing of your brother came you all Jeannine, his AMAZING family, I can not believe how lucky I am to have all of you in my life! You are the best sister I could have wished for,and continue to teach me, and enrich my life, thank you for taking such great care of me!! I am so grateful!

  4. Happy Birthday and Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your sweetheart! I love this story and am struck each time you’ve shared it with the beautiful gift you received; not just in your soul mate, but that your mother “chose” and KNEW him before she left you. You do know how to count your blessings!

    • I am so glad that she passed away knowing that my own family was growing, I think she needed to make sure of that before she could go.

  5. The “story of us” doesn’t get much better than this. One of these days you and I need to sit down and have a long catch up. Many synergies to our stories. xo

  6. Happy Belated B-day! I loved reading your love story about how you met Michael. So Sweet!

  7. Dear Elizabeth,

    Mom and I just read this “published account” of how you and Michael met. It’s so beautifully written, so inspiring… I will link it to the more comprehensive account of “A Love Story Lent a Helping Hand by Kemal Ataturk,” which I intend to expand into an epic story spanning several generations. You have been an ornament to the Atalay Family, and clearly it was your mother who served as the catalyst… Dad (Father-in-law)

    • Dad, we certainly have a legacy of great love stories in our family, including yours with Mom! I am grateful everyday to be a part of the Atalay family!

  8. I never saw this post last year but it is so beautifully written, Elizabeth. It was kismet for your mother to meet Michael and introduce him to you. Reading this account warms my heart. You are such a lovely person and it shows in all that you do.