Angelina Jolie on How Her Daughters Helped Her Rediscover Late Mom Marcheline Bertrand

Angelina Jolie
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Angelina Jolie marked Mother’s Day by sharing how her daughters have helped her rediscover her late mom, Marcheline Bertrand, and her rock ’n’ roll-loving spirit.

In an essay for The New York Times, Jolie opened up about being raised by Bertrand and how losing her, in her thirties, changed her.

“It was not sudden, but so much shifted inside," wrote Jolie, who has three daughters (Zahara, Shiloh and Vivienne) and four sons (Maddox, Pax and Knox) with ex-husband Brad Pitt. “Losing a mother’s love and warm, soft embrace is like having someone rip away a protective blanket.”

Jolie, 44, said that before Bertrand’s death from breast cancer, one of the things she instilled in her was that dreams can “simply change shape.”

The actress also shared the secret meaning behind a tattoo she got on her right hand following Bertrand’s death. While the ink appears to be an “M,” for Marcheline, it is in fact a “W” -- symbolizing the Rolling Stones song “Winter,” which Bertrand serenaded Jolie with when she was young.

“Listening to ‘Winter’ now, I realize how lonely and afraid my mother must have been, but also how determined she was to fight to make sure her children were all right,” Jolie said, referring to Bertrand’s struggles, which included losing her own mother in her twenties and primarily raising Jolie and her brother, James Haven, on her own after parting ways with their father, Jon Voight. “As the ‘w’ faded on my hand, so did that feeling of home and protection. Life has taken many turns. I’ve had my own loss and seen my life take a different direction. And it hurt more than I imagined it ever would.”

“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,” Jolie continued. “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.”

Reflecting on how Bertrand used to wrap her in blankets and snuggle her while singing the lyric “I wanna wrap my coat around you” from “Winter,” Jolie said she now feels a similar sense of protectiveness as a mom herself.

“I now know what it’s like to be alone and to wrap my coat around those I love,” she wrote. “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.”

Jolie also paid tribute to the many refugee moms she has met through her extensive philanthropic work, and the measures they take to protect their children, like putting their own lives at risk or seeking refuge in places where they may face abuse.

“A woman like this will suffer unimaginable pain in war or in a refugee camp, but she will not leave her child and seek another life,” Jolie said. “She will sit for 10 years, 20 years or more if necessary. I remember all the beautiful faces of the refugee mothers I have met, like pages in a family album. Their eyes full of exhaustion, but never giving up. Because they who were once daughters must now wrap their own child in a blanket.”

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