Some years are harder than others. This year is tough. Last year, not so much. I lost my Mom on February 5, 1994. I was 22 and 5 months pregnant with J at the time. 15 months prior to that, she had been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the jaw. She was a smoker, which is what the oncologist indicated was probably a major cause. She was a breast cancer survivor of nearly 10 years at that point.
Her diagnosis in November 1992 and the following year of treatment was the one of the hardest thing she and my Dad had ever lived through. It was the hardest thing I have ever experienced. She underwent radical surgery, experimental gland surgery, radiation, and the deterioration of her body. She was 45 years old when she died. She never met her second granddaughter, or the grandsons we adopted later on. She missed a lot, being gone. But I’ve missed more.
I think what has made it hard for me this year is that a friend of mine at work had her mother pass away a few weeks ago. I didn’t see her at work for a while, so I wrote her a note, telling her I’m praying for her, and that I know what she is going through. And then I started thinking about my Mom a lot.
Some things that my Mom taught me…
- Staying home with your children is important. She didn’t work outside of the home until I was a Junior in high school. She was always home when we got home, even when I was in high school.
- Being creative keeps you from being bored. She loved to knit and crochet, and we were always doing crafts together. She was also an accomplished wood carver, and she carved the most beautiful cribbage boards with military emblems on them. My Dad still has several of them.
- Reading is the best way to pass the time when there’s nothing else to do. She always had her nose stuck in a book, and I tend to be the same way.
- Play games! Mom loved all sorts of dice, card, and board games. I remember she and I staying up all night a few times, playing Rummy. We would go to Denny’s around 2am and have breakfast, and I was in junior high when we did this. Fun times!
- Love on your kids. As far back and I can remember, Mom used to hold my sister and I in the rocking chair, and she’d sing to us. She was gentle and sweet.
- Love your husband. Even when he isn’t acting lovable. My Mom & Dad were married 27 years when Mom passed. Their marriage wasn’t perfect, but she always modeled for me what a wife should be, not hasty to run away when things were tough.
I have my Mom & Dad’s old answering machine tape, that has her answering message on it. I pull it out and listen to it once in a while. I get to hear her voice. It’s not much, but at least I have that. I also have the letters that she wrote to my Gramma (and a few other people) over the course of 30 years, including the last letters she wrote my Dad and my mother in law (who was a dear friend), both about a month before she died.
I have memories and pieces of my Mom’s life, and I cherish those. So if you see me at church on Sunday and I seem a bit down, you know why. I’m just really missing my Mom.