“She is more ‘Mom’ to me than she ever was – and as I grow older, I am able to see how this situation has truly grown her into the woman that she’s always hoped for…I, too, am that woman – all because of Mom.” -Hayley Rude


On July 13th, 2013, Hayley Rude received a call letting her know that her mother, Darlene, had suffered a massive stroke, and faced a very small chance of survival. Her mother is fighter though, and her story of hope, strength, kindness, and the ever changing power of a mothers bond struck us as a story that needed to be shared. We asked Hayley if she would share a bit about her mother and their walk to recovery together with us. 

First of all, can you tell me what happened to you mother several years ago? 

“On July 13th, 2013, I received a call that my mom had suffered from a massive stroke – her chances of survival being slim. With Mom being young (53, at the time), this really shocked and humbled my family. We felt great fear, shed many tears, and were comforted by precious memories as we contemplated losing the sweetest woman we know. 54 days later, she returned home from the hospital – alive, smiling, and victorious.”


“The stroke has claimed much of her mobility on the right side of her body – but has yet to claim her sweet, bright spirit! She abides by the phrase, “Never Ever Give Up” and has encouraged hundreds of people to do the same through her story of perseverance and faith in difficult and painful times.”

Did that experience impact your relationship with your mom? 

“In the beginning, the stroke was very difficult to process. Mom spent 54 days in the hospital, and when she was discharged – and the realities of her capabilities kicked in hard. I left my studies to care for her at home – and we faced many “firsts” and major adjustments together. I had to walk with her (literally and figuratively) as she faced losing a great deal of independence, and that was so hard on us both. Some days we fought like sisters. Some days we cried together as friends. Some days, like children, we just couldn’t turn off our giggle boxes. Some days she was Mom. Some days I was Mom.”

“We navigated a lot of unfamiliar territory together and the impact on our relationship was profound and beautiful as it took our relationship to new levels. We have a lot of grace toward one another and a greater appreciation of our time together now – and we take more time to laugh, because it has proven to be the best medicine during her recovery.”


A card Darlene send Hayley right before her stroke

Did that experience change how you see your mother? 

“The strength that she has shown since that day is unparalleled. Since her stroke, she has been our victor, our hero – the center of swollen hearts filled with love. She has beaten the odds, challenged “the system”, and gradually gained strength. She is more “Mom” to me than she ever was – and as I grow older, I am able to see how this situation has truly grown her into the woman that she’s always hoped for: resilient, brave, and full of faith. I, too, am that woman – all because of Mom.”


photo by Emily Lapish Photography

Did the kindness or care of people impact your mothers recovery? 

“Mom had an incredible support system rallying behind her while in the hospital. Friends, family, and even people we did not know personally took time and effort to write personal cards in order to encourage Mom. We taped the ones she received while in the hospital across the walls of her room, and the hospital staff marveled at her fame! That was so important to us, because when we looked at Mom’s “card wall” – we never felt alone or unsafe. It made us all feel very at home while in a very difficult, unfamiliar season.”


How is your mom doing today and what do you think her future looks like? 

“There are still many more mountains to climb, but she is getting stronger by the day. Mom’s care has become less acute as she has become more independent. She has learned to use the left side of her body in compensatory ways, and she continues to develop fresh ways to accomplish tasks that she was easily capable of prior to her stroke. So many things that she depended on us for in the beginning, she can now do for herself! This gives her a great deal of confidence – and I am so proud of her!”

What is the single most important thing you remember about some of the hardest times of recovery and your mom? 

“In part, we mourn the loss of our ‘Mom’ – the voice, the comfort, the personality of the woman who raised me and my siblings for a combined total of 95 years. That was, by far, the most difficult realization, but the biggest lesson – the biggest take away from this is that moments matter. We now celebrate our “new” Mom: each of her breaths, the comfort of her presence, and the quirky, fun person that comes out of her daily. We celebrate the gift of her waking days, and though it is “tough” – our family has been showered with comforting notes, calls, contributions, and acts of love from the incredible community that has supported us these past 3 years. This propels us and Mom forward and keeps us hopeful about her continual recovery.”

*All images submitted by Hayley Rude. Feature image by Katy J. Photography.

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