My mom is an incredibly strong woman-- we're talking superhuman strength here (she changed her own tires, brakes, and oil; she dominated a zipline adventure ropes course just a few months ago!) --and brave, courageous, and absolutely glowing with love and positive energy. I am deeply saddened to be losing her from this life but am glad for her to be at peace, to stop fighting this 12-year long war with cancer, and to be walking into the next life, which she envisioned as bright and beautiful.
My mom would tell me that graveyards were okay, and that some people needed them-- as a place to sit and be with loved ones and to grieve. But when I think of her spirit, I can't picture her there. My mom loves the outdoors-- hiking mountains, taking long walks in the woods, and connecting with nature.
And she liked to give faces to trees.
She'd buy these funny kits where you'd get (in treelike textured objects) two eyes, a nose, and a mouth. She liked to take them on walks with her and her dog Kaydee and put them up in trees where people wouldn't be expecting them. She did this kind of a lot. So when I think of my mom's spirit I think of her own face in the trees, in the hills, and in the summits of her favorite mountains (Mt. Tom, Mt. Washington) that we'd used to hike. It only felt right for us (me, Jen and Kaydee, too of course!) to put up a tree face along the path in the woods behind our old house in Mansfield. You can go see it there in Shelter Falls Park, overlooking the bridge and the water. We always liked it there.My mom was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002.
I was in my first year of high school and I thought that you could fix anything with medicine. I told her "you'll get treatment, you'll be okay, and life will move on." And that's what she did. She fought and she won. She had treatment for a year or so and then won. She lived cancer-free for a little over 5 years.
But then it came back, the disease nastier than ever, embittered by my mother's strength, determination, and love of life.She fought hard for nearly 5 years (after her doctors told her she might have 2 or 3), harder than I thought possible. But she didn't only fight. She loved, she played, she enjoyed her life and the people in it. And she did each of these things with more force and vigor than does anyone I've ever known. She was kind and patient, loving and grateful. All throughout her war with cancer she kept her wonderful sense of humor. She put on huge afro wigs for her doctors. She had her whole head painted at Halloween after she had needed to shave her hair (an event during which she let me and my cousins give her a mohawk!). She wore a pink shirt which bore in script the simple message "F*ck cancer."
If you know me as kind, or a good listener, easy-going, or funny, then you've known a part of my mom as these are gifts she has left to me. I will miss her always even knowing that I carry her presence with me and that she will always be here watching over me and my family.
Mom, I love you forever. May you always be in peace, joy, and love.
For those able to attend, her memorial service will be held at the First Congregational Church in Coventry on Friday 1/10 at 6:30pm.