Twenty-three years ago today, my mom passed away.
I can't believe it's been that long. Well, that's not entirely true. Part of me feels like it was yesterday; but when I think about all the things she has 'missed' it seems even longer.
Just a quick synopsis: shortly after I was born, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She eventually had both breasts removed, underwent chemotherapy, radiation treatments, several extended hospital stays, etc...etc...and eventually passed away on December 22, 1985.
I was 13 at the time so I have plenty of great memories of my years with her, but unfortunately there's still a lot I don't remember. Thankfully I have an unending supply of stories from my dad, my sisters and countless friends of hers who can fill in the gaps. :-)
The fact that she lived as long as she did (this all began in 1972, don't forget) is a testament to her strength and courage. There wasn't a day that went by where she didn't live her life to the fullest. She never let the fact that she wasn't feeling well keep her from being happy and you never once heard her complain...beyond the everyday complaints that we all have. :-)
I have her to thank for my love for music, singing, (sorry, dad!) and making sure that I never take advantage of all that I have in my life.
I want to share with the Blog world the last letter I received from her. This was written in August of 1985 and she wrote it to me while I was at camp for two weeks. After this hospital stay (described in the letter), she returned home for a few months but eventually had to return to the hospital for the last time.
This letter is one of the most important things I own and yes, I was afraid to take it out of the house! Posting it here will not only share her words with the 'world', but now I'll have a permanent copy that I can't lose. Maybe I'll make a few copies while I'm at work...don't tell my boss. :-)
Tuesday Aug. 20, 1985
How are you doing? Hope you are having a great time. Well John, I did it again. Dad and I left for Cape Cod Saturday. I was feeling pretty good. It took us about 1 hr. and 1/2 to get there. We drove around for a while to see where everything was, stopped in to see the L*****s. They have a bigger trailer than the M***s. It was very nice. We got our place, unpacked, sat around for a while, and then went out for dinner. It was excellent. I had fish, and Dad had white clam sauce on pasta. Home we went, watched some TV, and went to bed.
We woke up Sunday morning and decided to go to 11:30 mass. I wasn't feeling too good. I was having trouble breathing. We left mass early and found a nice place to have breakfast. We sat around the rest of the day and relaxed & met some of our neighbors. When we woke up on Monday it was pouring. Dad went for a ride and said some of the roads you couldn't use they were so flooded. I really wasn't feeling that good - still having trouble breathing and felt lousy. We decided to go for a ride. We went to the post office and just rode around. we went back home, it was still raining. We sat around for a while, I still wasn't feeling any better, in fact I felt worse. We decided to call the doctor. He thought I should go to the local hospital and be checked. My doctor would call the hospital and tell them what to do. Now is where the fun begins. We decided there was too much traffic, so we called the ambulance. Of course the fire engines showed up too. Everyone was looking and watching, wondering what was wrong with me. They told me it would be a noisy ride. Was it ever. They has the sirens going all the way. As it turned out, it was the same thing as before - they had to take out the fluid from the chest cavity. I am feeling much better. The only thing is, Dr. L. decided he wanted me at the Brigham and Women's Hospital so back into the ambulance I go, this time to Boston. This time the ride wasn't quite as noisy. I got here at 8:00. I had no supper. I was starving. I got my supper at 10:30 last night, boy did it taste good. So here I am John, at the hospital. I haven't seen the doctor yet, he had a big surgery this morning so I don't know when I'll be home. Donna and Bill will be picking you and Scott up. I'm hoping I will be home when you get there. Have a great time John and please don't worry about me, I am doing just fine. Looking forward to seeing you and hearing all about your adventures.