Lee was thirteen when his mother died. To be honest, he was surprised she had lasted that long.
It was three years after the rest of his family was murdered. He and his mother had found a place with a maternal aunt who was willing to take them in. It wasn't uncommon for the time. Not long beforehand, armies from both the United and Confederate States had driven people from their homes and into the arms of family. That was their story: raiders from the war had attacked their farm. To be accurate, it was Lee's story, since his mother was unresponsive, and took no part in explaining her situation. She didn't take part in anything.
Lee had watched her so carefully. He did everything he could to keep her with him. Even though he knew she couldn't tell, he still loved her. Desperately, he tried to learn spells to counteract the catatonia. He searched everywhere in his reach, asking questions from people who couldn't answer him. Most of the other wizards he met knew no more than he did, and were not half so powerful. The wizards who did know were unwilling to help him. She wasted away before his eyes while he worked vigorously to learn every healing and restoring spell he could get his hands on. Nothing worked.
After three years of vain efforts, she passed away. Peacefully, in the night, while sleeping. Despite how toughened he had become in the world, Lee cried when he found out. Only when he was alone did he let the angry, guilty tears spill. He hadn't been able to save her. Even though he logically knew it wasn't his fault, he wished more than anything he had enough knowledge to prevent her death. To give her back some life. There was no chance of that, now.
The funeral was brief, solemn, sparingly attended. Afterward, his aunt said to him, "All is not lost. Her blood, and your father's, run mixed in your veins. You always carry them with you."
He did not want to receive a pep talk. Lee was too independent, to self-sufficient, to show that he needed support from her. But those words still stayed with him. You always carry them with you. It was time for Lee to leave. The only thing keeping him from officially beginning to train as a wizard and battle the Roses was his mother. He could not have left her alone. But now, she did not need caring for. He no longer needed to search for healing and restorative spells and charms.
Now it was time to avenge his parents. Lee was packed and gone by the next morning, leaving only a note for his aunt. The battle had begun.