Posted by: Kathy | September 7, 2012

A Purple Wristband

Many people who see the purple band on my right wrist probably do not give it a second thought. If they do, some may wonder what organization I support or if there is a saying imprinted into the rubber.

Just another one of those “trendy” bands that people wear these days, no it’s not.

I got a purple wristband a few weeks after I lost my mom to pancreatic cancer. I wanted to support the Lustgarten Foundation, so I purchased four purple wristbands. I gave one each to my dad and husband, put another on the corner of a picture of mom and I that had been taken shortly after my son was born, and placed the last one on my wrist. Little did I know how much this purple wristband would come to mean to me.

As I stumbled through the unfamiliar and incredibly painful world of grief and loss, the purple band around my wrist became a symbol of my mom’s courageous battle against a disease that has been referred to as a death sentence. Like a leech, I watched pancreatic cancer drain the life from my mom until there was nothing left. But this horrific disease could not kill her spirit. As the months passed by, the significance of this purple wristband grew. I never take the band off and it is worn in memory of my mom. This band has become a part of me.

Ironically, I cannot wear a watch or bracelet because it is too uncomfortable. But wearing this purple band brings me comfort, and when it has unknowingly fallen off my wrist, usually entangled in a shirt, jacket, or towel, I realize it is missing almost immediately. I go into panic mode until it is found and back on my wrist. I actually feel lost without it, and I cannot wear the extra wristband I have because it does not feel right. Like a favorite pair of jeans, this band fits perfectly.

Several times when my wristband has gone missing, I ended up finding it in a peculiar place. A few months after my mom died, the band had come off my wrist. I was frantic and searched the house for several days before finally believing that it was gone. One evening as I walked past our wooden coat rack, there was my band hanging on one of the pegs. I asked my husband and interrogated my kids, but no one had put my purple band on that peg. How it got there remains a mystery. Last September, my daughter started school. I was upset that my mom was not here to see this, as her grandkids meant everything to her. I talked to my mom, telling her about Nikki’s first day of school and how much I missed her. During the second week of school my purple wristband went missing twice, and each time I found it in my daughter’s room. I know Nikki would bring the band to me if she found it and would not put it in her room. I truly believe it was my mom letting me know that she was watching over her granddaughter.

Over the past few years, I have worn this purple band through good times and bad ones. When I was in the hospital, this band shared a spot with two plastic bands – my identification and an allergy alert. My purple wristband was with me as I waited to hear about my husband’s surgery a mere 3 months after my mom died and then my dad’s procedure 2 months after that. It was during these times that I really needed my mom, and although she was not with me physically, she was there in spirit. This band has been a part of more than 20 birthday celebrations, 4 Christmases, 4 Easter egg hunts, and 3 Thanksgiving dinners. Whether I am dressed up to go to church or slumming it in sweats or my PJs, the purple band is on my wrist. I even wore this band as I walked down the aisle as a bride’s maid at my dad’s wedding in May.

I have worn this purple wristband 24/7 for nearly 4 years, and I do not plan on taking it off anytime soon. Our next adventures together include taking a certification exam and testing for my next belt in TaeKwonDo (my first testing in nearly 5 years). After that, who knows…but I do know that my purple band will be on my wrist.


  1. Mom’s 102nd birthday was six weeks after she died. We had celebrated together the previous 18 years. This time though, I wanted something from her….a memory ring. I bought myself a heart-shaped amethyst ring to wear next to my wedding band, which includes the diamond that was in the engagement ring my dad gave my mother in 1934. Recently I had foot surgery and had to take off all jewelry. I gave my rings to my husband. Immediately after surgery on they went again. A bracelet would be harder to keep track of…but it sounds like your mom is helping you keep track of it.

  2. Wow, this was very moving, made me shed some tears. I’m very grateful that you shared this personal story with us and it really sounds like a treasure to keep. I wish you all the luck in the world.

    • Thank you! I hope to always have this simple rubber band that is a symbol of my mom. Take care.

  3. I love that you shared this very intimate story of the purple band. I can just imagine it soo comfortable on your wrist and how it fits so snuggly like its your part of everyday. And to have been using it for 4 years?! Wow. My mom chose to be cremated. We took some ashes before they sealed the urn and filled up lockets with a part of her in it. 2 lockets went to her 2 sister, the ones she waited to arrive and 3 other lockets went to me, my sister and my dad. I had a friend make a locket for me that carried everything that my mom was. It had her peridot birthstone and a breast cancer ribbon on top. At the back I had her name engraved. I still have to add her picture inside. I wear this locket everyday and interchange the other pendants that I sell at my online shop. Like you, no matter what occasion I go to, I still wear it. And I will wear it forever. Close to my heart….

    • Your locket sounds beautiful. I’m glad you have something that symbolizes your mom that can be with you everyday. Our moms’ memories live on in many different ways for us, and we hold those special things close to our heart. Take care.

  4. Kathy,
    I am so happy to have found your site. Your writings are beautiful. I lost my mother to pancreatic cancer just a few months ago and every day gets harder, not better. Thank you for sharing your photos and feelings…I can relate to everything you say and feel like I have experienced the same things. My mother only lived seven months after beign diagnosed, and I agonize every day that I did not do enough. I am purchasing purple wristbands for all my mom’s grandchildren to wear…what a wonderful idea. Thank you for that idea and for all your writings!

    • Lynn: I’m so sorry you lost your mom to pancreatic cancer. Yes, things do get harder, but then somehow, one day, the world looks a little brighter, the weight on your heart is not so heavy, and the grief is not so strong. It’s taken me years to heal from my mom’s illness and death, and I am still healing. Many people don’t understand that you’re not just healing from your mom’s death, but also her 7 months of battling pancreatic cancer. Although everyone experiences grief differently, know that you are not alone in the way you feel or what you’re going through. This is something I’ve learned through my blog. I wish you all the best as you navigate your journey of grief and healing. Take care.

  5. Kathy, I am glad you have that wristband to anchor you to your mom still. It sounds like it was an awful time for you and I pray for your continued recovery. blessings and peace to you. Beth

    • Thank you Beth! Take care.

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