“Tomorrow would have been my mother’s 73rd birthday,” Angelina Jolie wrote on May 8 while sharing a throwback photo of her as a child alongside her mom, the late Marcheline Bertrand. The actress, producer, and humanitarian died in 2007 at age 56. For Angelina, 47, the memory was bittersweet. “She passed away 15 years ago, after a long struggle with breast and ovarian cancer. In June, I will be a month away from the age when she was diagnosed. I have had preventive surgeries to try to lessen [the] chances but I continue to have check-ups. My mom loved [Jimi] Hendrix. And would always sign her letters ‘Kiss the Sky.’ It took on [a] new meaning after she passed.”
“Sending my love to those who have also lost loved ones,” added Jolie, “and strength to those who are fighting at this very moment for their lives and the lives of those they love. And to other women, please take the time to look after yourself and go for your mammograms and blood tests or ultrasounds, particularly if you have a family history of cancer. For more info, see the link in my bio #WOCD2023 #worldovariancancerday.”
As an actress, Marcheline had a minor career, appearing in an episode of Ironside in 1971, in 1982’s Lookin’ to Get Out, and in 1983’s The Man Who Loved Women. She turned her attention to producing in the early 1980s before focusing on activism work. After divorcing Jon Voight, Angelina’s father, in 1980, she worked on causes of indigenous people, as she was part Iroquois (according to her IMDB bio.) In the early 2000s, she and Angelina founded the All Tribes Foundation.
“I lost my mother in my thirties,” Angelina wrote in a 2020 essay for The New York Times. “When I look back to that time, I can see how much her death changed me. It was not sudden, but so much shifted inside. Losing a mother’s love and warm, soft embrace is like having someone rip away a protective blanket.”
“She loved to feel alive. She loved to laugh,” continued Jolie. “When I was down, she would break out those rock songs and remind me of the fire within. One of my early memories is of her lighting candles and placing Beatles albums around the house the night John Lennon was killed. The other time I recall her being worried about a public figure’s health was when Pope John Paul II was shot.”
“But now, with my girls growing up and being the ages I remember so well as a daughter, I am rediscovering my mother and her spirit. She was a girl who danced all night on the Sunset Strip and loved rock ‘n’ roll. She was a woman who loved, even after loss, and never lost her grace and her smile,” she concluded. “I now know what it’s like to be alone and to wrap my coat around those I love. And I know the overwhelming sense of gratitude at being strong enough to keep them safe and warm. When your children come into your life, they immediately and forever come first.”
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