Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My Mother

I have composed this post in my head so many times, but actually getting it typed out proved to be much harder. Today's post is a tribute to my mother.
Marlene Rose, Senior Picture
My mom was the second of seven children and first daughter born to my grandparents. My grandfather was a minister and an insurance salesman and my grandmother was a homemaker. From all accounts, my mom and her siblings had a pretty happy childhood. She graduated from high school and then went to Graceland College. She met my dad one summer when he was working in Kansas City and they hit it off and got married.

They moved to Bowling Green, MO where my dad grew up and where he worked with my grandfather at his store, Woods Locker and Abattoir. It is now simply called Woods Smoked Meats. My parents had a lot of close friends that they hung around with and did the usual drinking and partying that you do in your 20's. Plus, it was the 70's so I think people had more fun back then. Everyone started having kids around the same time, so my siblings and I always had playmates around.

My parents' marriage fell apart when I was 11 years old and my mom moved herself and the 4 of us kids back to Kansas City. We lived with my grandparents for about 3 months until my mom was able to buy a house. Although she never really talked about it, I have a feeling that she was extremely unhappy during this time period. She had taken a huge risk and moved away from all of her friends and was on her own with four kids to take care of. My aunt Beth moved in with us to help and my mom started working nights and going back to school. She had never completed her degree so when she finally did, it was a huge accomplishment. She was able to start working days again and with a much higher salary.

I do not remember her ever dating anyone after the divorce. Apparently, we were her priority or she never met anyone she considered worth dating. I really don't know. My dad got married about a year later and is still married to my step-mom to this day. When I was about to start my senior year of college, my mom announced that she was getting married. I was floored as I didn't even know that she had been seeing someone. I had serious reservations about this man I had never met. It turns out that he was the best thing that could have happened to her, though. He was so good to her and it was obvious that he loved her very much.

Mom and John
 In April 2006, she discovered a lump in her breast that turned out to be cancer. I was devastated. My mom was the sweetest, most kind person ever and didn't deserve this. She had a mastectomy done and then started on chemotherapy. Even though she lost all of her hair and was sick from the chemo, she still maintained a positive attitude. One year later, she had a big birthday party at a local park. She was looking pretty good and we thought that she might have it beaten. Nope, she made an announcement that they had found cancer in her lymph nodes. Another blow.

Rachel and Mom
This time, she chose not to do chemo and instead chose a more homeopathic route. I'm not sure why she did this, but around Christmastime it was obvious that it was not working. Her left arm had started swelling up because she was starting to retain fluid in the tissue and the doctors could not drain it properly. After a couple more months, it became clear that it was only a matter of time.
Last Christmas with Elsa, the photobomber
My major regret is that I did not spend more time with her. I wish that I had made the time to go over to her house more often or just given her a call once in a while. That is lost time with her that I will never get back.

On her 58th birthday, we had a huge party at her house. She was bedridden at this point and chose to have a nurse come in daily rather than be in a hospital. All of her close friends and family were there and everyone was gathered around laughing and telling stories and she was the happiest I had seen her in while. The next day, she passed away quietly in her sleep.

Yesterday, she would have turned 63 years old. Today is the 5th anniversary of her death. They say that time heals all wounds, but to lose your mother at such a young age is a cut that runs deep. I don't know that I'll ever be fully healed. I still miss her every day.

She had the best laugh and she loved corny jokes. She loved the color pink. She was an amazing seamstress and made a lot of my clothes when I was growing up. She was ridiculously kind and always taught us to be nice and respectful of others. She instilled values in us that I hope I have been able to pass down to my own kids. She was such a strong woman and although she went through a lot of tough times, she never seemed to complain. My worst fear was not my mom being mad at me, but for being disappointed in me. I can only hope that wherever she is now, she is proud of me and my sisters and brother.

After her funeral - don't know how we were able to smile