Heart on Fire




My mother died this week after a sudden grave illness. It all happened very suddenly. Unlike with cancer, we didn’t have the luxury of time to complete things. There were things left unsaid, hurts unhealed, love unexpressed. The past few years, as she aged and declined physically and mentally, were challenging. As I reflect on her life and our relationship, I’m aware of how complex our relationships with our mothers and daughters. And I’m aware of the fragility and uncertainty of life. We never really know what’s next.

My mother taught me many things ~ how to stand up for myself; how to dream big dreams and not let anything stop me. She taught me perseverance and going the distance. She left many wounds as well ~ not honoring myself as a woman; and loving with conditions. She taught me very little about being a woman or intimacy and sexuality. She grew up in another generation where such things were not discussed and it was shameful.

I think these early messages are a big part of why I became a sex educator, so I can thank my mother for that.

I taught my mother a few things as well ~ how to apologize for mistakes; how to love her body; how to masturbate. WHAT?!? How did that happen? I don’t remember how we got on the subject of self-pleasure, but I asked her if she did and she said she didn’t know what I was talking about. I happened to be visiting and I always travel with my favorite vibrator, so I told her about it.

We went into her bedroom with the vibrator and I showed her how I use it. She was squirmy and beat red, and also fascinated. I asked her if she wanted to try it and it was hard for her to say yes. So I left it on her bed and left the room.

Downstairs I made a cup of tea and settled in with a book. About an hour later, Mom came downstairs with a crooked smile on her face, looking quite happy and relaxed. “Well???” I said, “Did you have some fun?” She gave a hint of a nod and made herself a drink.

I left the vibrator in her bathroom with a note that it was my gift to her. The next morning I found it in my suitcase. We never talked about it.

One of the things I loved about my mother is that she was an adventurer. She tried lots of things, took risks and I learned that from her. Living life full-on is a gift we can give ourselves every day.

I have taught my daughter to be an adventurer, by example and by encouraging her to follow her dreams and passions. I also have taught her to love her body and how to experience many kinds of physical pleasure, including self pleasuring and masturbation. She has already thanked me for that!

This gift from my mother is her legacy. My heart is one fire with gratitude and sadness and love.

What is your legacy?

© 2012 by Barbara Musser, Sexy After Cancer.

For more resources, go to SexyAfterCancer.com

This blog does not reflect the opinions of The Pink Fund, its Founder, Board of Directors, Advisers or Volunteers. It is not meant to serve as medical advice of any kind. Any questions about your health and sexuality should be directed to a licensed physician or therapist. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the writer who voluntarily blogs for The Pink Fund without compensation.

Leave a comment


  1. I love this story. You were very blessed to be raised by such strong and confident woman. I love how you shared about the vibrator. We are never too young nor too old to learn from our mothers, sisters and daughters.

  2. the masturbating part seemed a little to inapproprirate at first, but after thinking about it was okay


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