Wednesday, March 17, 2010

To know my Mom....

Things are moving along. Slowly. But that's how they like it. Actually Ally's pancreatic enzymes were way down today (700) so they let her start to drink again. Clear liquids. You would think she would have guzzled everything in sight, but she really didn't. She had a slushie and some jello and a few sips of Crush. We will see how much leeway they give her tomorrow. Hoping for food and hoping she tolerates it so she can come back home soon. The whole hospital stay and dealing with two other smallish kids in the process (although we have some help) has me quite exhausted. Thanks again to all those helping from the sidelines.

I was looking back through some things that I wrote down at this time last year. Sometimes I try to imagine myself even a year ago. The thoughts in my head, the person I was...I was altogether different. Not in a bad way or even a good way, but just different. I was not scarred by this tragic turn of events in my life....but I was very much suffering the loss of my Mom who was just so important to me. One year ago, I had not met all these new people who I know love at the hospital. Nurses, doctors, friends, patients. I had not started a blog with loyal readers or people rallying behind us. I had lost touch with a lot of my friends, who are now right back with me fighting the fight. And so I started thinking...these people didn't even know my Mom.

A year ago, on a sunny Thursday, I stood in front of 300 people and gave a Eulogy for my Mom. I know it is odd, most people wouldn't have done it, but I had to do it. I had to honor my Mom and let people know how special she was. (Well most people knew she was special, but I wanted them to know why she was special to me.) I wrote this about my Mom and it was truly one of my proudest moments ever to be able to deliver the speech without breaking down into sobs on the stage. So again, in her honor, I will reprint it here. For those of you who knew Marcy, it might bring a laugh or a memory. For those of you who didn't know her, I want to give a glimpse. I wrote this before I EVER knew about leukemia, but I must have known that I had to be strong for something. There is an eerie premonition running through what I wrote: Here is what I said:

This is going to be one of the harder things I have ever had to do. I have thought about this moment for over a year now. People have tried to convince me not to speak, but I feel so strongly that I owe this to my mom. She would have been so honored for me to pay tribute to her. So please bear with me….

My mom. She knew when she was a small child that her role in life would be to be a mother and wife and a caretaker. My grandparents and my Aunt and Uncle always tell me about how she played “house” when she was a little girl. That was her favorite thing to do. She played baby dolls, had a play kitchen, an easy bake oven, even a real working iron. She loved these things and was preparing for us even then. When I was growing up, on Scotch Pine Drive, she truly was the perfect mother. She took such good care of all of us. She did everything for me…everything…so that all I had to do was enjoy the wonderful experiences of childhood. She was an extremely organized and practical woman. I remember having set days of the week….Monday was always for cleaning, Tuesday was grocery. Everything had its place with her. Anyone that knew her, they knew she was the epitome of common sense. She could give guidance to you on anything....She could fix anything around the house. She even had her own toolbox. She could prepare any kind of food. She could find you the best deal while shopping. She had the greenest thumb and could grow anything.

That brings me to core of the memory of my mother. She was not a mother just to me. She was mother nature. She LOVED nature and being outdoors. You can see the legacy of that all around you here today. We always had a garden and fed the birds. She loved growing flowers…she could name any tree, bush, or flower that you see. She loved walking through her woods. She would plant daffodil and other flower bulbs back in there. Even though no one would really see them. They were not for show…they would just make her happy. She would call me with great excitement as soon as she saw the flowers peeking out in the Spring. She would have loved if her daffodils were in bloom today…but instead we brought in all these daffodils just for her. She loved all of the animals too. Her “girls” as she called them….the ducks...lived on her pond. The deer come to this very spot every night as we put out corn for them. Even on her sickest days, she would notice her pileated woodpecker that would come to her tree in the backyard. She grew strawberries in the spring. She grew apples and peaches. She grew gourds for the fall and had a gigantic pumpkin patch for the kids to pick their own pumpkins.

Which brings me to her legacy. Her grandchildren. Five special kids who just called her Ma. If they wrote a book about the perfect grandmother, it was her. They only had a short time with her, but she made it so so special. She shared the nature with them. They were always going on walks, picking items from the garden, looking for fossils in the creekbed, or having picnics up at the top of the waterfall. They took turns feeding the ducks and the fish. In that short time, she instilled the love of the outdoors in them. She tried to teach them things all of the time. She always made them feel special. My daughter, Allison, was speaking to me the other night before bed. I was talking to her about someday when I will hopefully be a Grandma. And she said “Will you have special birthday parties at your house for them just like Ma did for us?” She always had a special themed party for them…all their own…sometimes even up at our picnic area with a pinata hanging from the big tree. Holidays were also a core of her life. We always had an egg hunt at Easter, a hayride in the fall and designed a gingerbread house at Christmas. She always took the kids shopping at Christmas. They could pick out whatever they wanted to buy us. They would wrap it up together and then hide the gifts in their rooms. This past year, I think that shopping day was the highlight of her whole Christmas. With that, she also taught them about giving to others. They would take part of their Christmas shopping money and give it to someone less fortunate. Even at age 3 and 4 and 5 she was teaching them how to give back. Her generosity to others, as most of you well know, was a gift to all of us. My parents have always taught us to give back. Pay it forward, if you will. Be charitable, have a big heart, treat everyone with respect, and love the life you live.

I never would have thought I could have made it through such a terrible ordeal as I have lived these past fifteen months. Ask anyone who knew me before this, and they would have told you I would just curl up and cry. My mother was my whole life. I inherited the same emotional side that she had. I am so much like her in so many ways. But somehow as we went through this, I developed this incredible strength. I knew the situation and I wanted to spend every moment that I could with her. I left my family and I took care of her most evenings, every weekend. When I would walk in her house or her hospital room she would always light up. Of course, I saw things that I never wanted to see. Heard things I hope you never hear. I know so many medical terms and could probably qualify to be a nurse. And although this disease is horrible, she was still teaching me in her own way. I learned to be strong, like her. I learned to fight hard for what you want and need. You see, about one year ago exactly, on Good Friday, the doctors told us she probably wouldn’t make it thru the weekend. They wanted to call Hospice and “make her comfortable” My Dad said NO NO, it wasn’t time. Because of his tenacity and my mother’s will to live we got one more whole year. I got one more mother’s day. One more summer at our picnic area. One more trip to our lakehouse. One more harvest at the pumpkin patch. She made me one more birthday cake. We had one more trip to Longboat Key and the kids had their Christmas shopping trip. We celebrated her 60th birthday one month ago. One year doesn’t sound like much, but it is over half of my baby girl’s life. She started talking and she started asking for her Ma. I learned to cherish every moment and live every day like it was my last. Throughout that year, I learned to hold onto hope when times get rough. I learned that miracles do happen sometimes and to be faithful. My faith in God was strengthened. My faithfulness to my Mom through this is something I will never regret. I had plenty of time to say what I wanted to say to her. I told her that even though she would not be with us, that she would live in my heart every single day. She will be my angel. Watching over me and watching over my kids. In every thing that I do, she will be there. Because she made me what I am today. I love you Mama.


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  2. You blew me away when you delivered this eulogy, Janel. That day, all I could think of was that your mom was listening to you and how proud she must have been! What an amazing way to honor her memory!!

  3. Janel,
    The eulogy you wrote for your mother is beautiful. It brings tears to my eyes and breaks my heart... you and your family have been through so much in the last two years. I didn't know your mother, but I do know what a good, loving, caring person you are, and knowing the type of person you are gives me a good glimpse of the wonderful person your mother must have been. Just remember that her spirit is with you everyday. She's with you during every trial and through all of the special moments. And I have no doubt that she would be so proud of the mother that you are.

    Sending lots of love your way.
    Shelly Bohman (Ashley's mom)

  4. Janel -

    What you wrote is just beautiful. I think of you often and was sad yesterday when you wrote that it was Melissa's 30th birthday and what the two of you were doing on her 29th birthday. I just think of everything that you are going through - and I wish you all of the strength that I can send you. I loved what you wrote in the beginning of the euology about your mom and her schedule - my mom had set days of the week too - I would always come home on Monday from school and she had somehow moved all of the furniture herself and rearranged things - she said that is how she knew it was clean. And Tuesdays were her grocery shopping days too. Thank you for sharing your memories and taking me back to a happy place with my mom. Happy and sad all at the same time. I always say that no one should have to belong to this club that we are in - especially at our age - and definitely at Melissa's. I was 31 when my mom passed away and it us as unbelievable to me now as it was then. Impossible it seems. You have an amazing strength and light wihthin you - thank you for sharing it. I gain strength and resolve from reading your words. Take care. Sheri Cobler

  5. it's so hard to read through tears! Janel you did such a beautiful job last year and I could still hear your voice, strong and clear and beautiful as I read those words today. Hard to believe it's been one year since that day filled with incredible forsithia and daffodils..take care, you made it! One whole year of milestones down, and a year of recovery coming. Love you!

  6. So moved by your beautiful words Janel! I cannot imagine the strength it took to deliver such a touching tribute to your mama. How proud she was then and how proud she must be of you now in caring for your family and continuing those wonderful family traditions that you will pass on to your children, and their children...Thank you for sharing with your "new" old friends who are back and pulling for you and praying for you and here for you!
    Becky S.

  7. Janel, what a powerful and oh so beautiful eulogy. I am just sorry that I was unable to be there a year ago with you and your family to hear it for the first time. I was one of the blessed ones that got to spend some time with your mom and got to know her. She was one very special person and I myself learned a great deal from her. She was a very strong person in my life when John was so sick and I am a better person for it. She will always remain in a special place in my heart. Thank you for sharing all that you do and know that miracles do happen. My prayers are for you and a much better week for Ally.

  8. Janelly - I remember you delivering that eulogy like it was yesterday. What a gorgeous tribute to your mom. I imagine that she is so pleased, in her new home, to have you share it once again. As I told you before, in the short time I knew her, she made me feel special with her kindness and generousity of spirit. She barely knew me, yet welcomed me warmly into her home and made me feel part of the Synergy family. She was truly special and a beautiful person. I'm glad I knew her - at least for a little while. And - you do have so many of her characteristics. You, too, are an amazing and wonderful mother - much like she was. So, Marcy lives on in you...and then on further in Ally, Evan, and Carly, as you teach them her ways. I have seen a lot of growth in you this year - a year of such hardship. You are one tough girl, enduring what would cause many to collapse. Proud of you today, just as I was a year ago. XOXOXOX!

  9. Janel,
    Thanks for writing that. I miss your house on Scotch Pine- and I miss your family. You are right, your mom is your angel, and she always will be. Thanks for sharing. Hoping each day is better for Ally.

  10. Janel - Your love and devotion to your mom is fantastic. She created, nurtured, and turned loose on the world a person who is making it a better place for everyone. We all owe her for that!