To Honor my Mother

Sunday is Mother’s Day; A day to honor the woman who gave you life. A day to show your appreciation for all of the kissed boo-boos, wiped noses, taxi services, hugs, warm meals, and all of the other little amazing things mothers do every day without giving it a second thought. 

For many years now (14 to be exact) I have hated this holiday. It only makes me sad and brings all of my attention to this huge mom-sized hole in my life. This year though, I want to honor my mother and I don’t want it just to be about how sad I am that she’s gone. So, here is the story of my mom, as a child remembers it. 

My mom was an amazing woman. She had a smile that could light up a room and her laugh was infectious. I thought she had to be the most beautiful woman in the world. She was silly, sweet, kind, caring, and the strongest person I have ever known. 

My mom, called half-pint by my dad, was a tiny woman. She topped out at 4’11 and weighed about 100 pounds soaking wet. My Nana tells me that when my mom got mad she was like a banny rooster, but that’s a side of her I didn’t see often. Not that I didn’t push her to the limits, but her counting to 3 when she was mad included all kinds of numbers like 2, 2 and a half, 2 and three-quarters, giving me plenty of time to change my mind about disobeying her. She loved country music and we would sing in the car together. She was afraid of hitting a deer though, so we always had to scan the ditches while we were driving in the country.  My mom was very particular about the way she looked and dressed, and naturally, this extended to me as well.  We would pick out our clothes the night before, choosing matching socks and jewelry as well. I was in awe of her and her morning routine. Watching her apply make up and do her hair was like watching an artist. Of course, you can’t rush an artist and my mom was chronically late for everything. 

Our lives changed when I was only 3 years old. My mom was diagnosed with a rare and basically untreatable form of cervical cancer. Later, we would find out this was due to a drug the doctors had given to her mother while she was pregnant with my mom and her twin sister, as a precaution to avoid a miscarriage. This drug is now known to have caused cervical cancer in women and infertility in men. 

From what I remember, the doctors didn’t give her a great prognosis, perhaps a year from my understanding. She underwent several major operations and went into remission twice. 

The cancer spread through my mom’s little body over the years. They did a total hysterectomy, took out part of her intestines, and eventually she had both a colostomy and ileostomy for her bodily wastes. She was such a fighter and willing to do anything to live. She underwent chemotherapy treatments in 1996, and perhaps through all of physical pain and sickness, the most heart breaking part of this was losing her hair. However, my mother was an adorable bald woman. We encouraged her to embrace it and sometimes she did, but most of the time she wore a blond wig (because blondes have more fun).  Her attitude through all of this was always positive and upbeat for me. I never once saw her discouraged or beaten, even though I am sure she had to be feeling that at times. My parents protected me, but never hid my mom’s condition from me. I knew all about her medications, her chemo and have even found journal entries from when I was 9 about her white blood cell count. 

My mom fought with everything she had for 7 years and she did have a lot of good times in between being sick. At the very end, she elected for Hospice care and wanted to die in her home. For some time our home was filled with family and friends, coming to say their goodbyes. We had a hospital bed set up in our living room so that she could be in the home she loved. She left this world on March 13, 1997 with my dad and I at her side. She was only 35 years old. Everyone who knew her felt the incredible loss. 

I think, for me, this loss has become more evident as I have grown into a woman. I am angry and sad that she can’t be here now and that there is so much I feel like she has missed. Really though, it is me missing her. I carry her with me in my heart, but more importantly she’s with Jesus. She has a perfect body and perfect health and peace and will never feel pain again. I trust with my whole heart that I will see her again someday. But, until I do, I will miss her and remember her, and strive to be even a little bit like her or have a fraction of her strength. 

As a way to honor her, this year I am walking in the Relay for Life, which is an awareness and fundraising event put on by the American Cancer Society. The funds are used y the American Cancer Society to provide 24 hour support for people with cancer and their family, research for a cure, work towards legislation to defeat cancer, and education and early detection. I would appreciate if you would support me in this cause by visiting my team website and thank you so much for letting me share my precious memories of my mom with you. 


kikiworm85 said...
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Brittney said...

Bless you for sharing those beautiful memories! I'm glad I am able to know your mother a little through this post. Your mom has got to be so proud of you right now... I'm sorry this holiday is so hard for you, understandable... I will say a special prayer for you tomorrow. I'm so glad you both know Jesus so you can have the absolute knowledge you WILL see her again someday! And have all of eternity to make up for lost years. She is such a beautiful woman, just like her daughter!

Melanie said...

She seems like she was a wonderful lady just like you, Ashlea. I can't even imagine what you must go through every time this holiday comes around. :( I wish I was at home so I could give you a big hug! In the meantime, I'll pray you have the strength to get through this difficult time. I hope you enjoy spending tomorrow with your girls :) Lots of love!

B. Wilson said...

Beautiful. Understanding loss firsthand now, I understand the intense grief you're going through. The pain of not having your mom for such monumental things in your life like marriage, college, etc. is quite numbing.

Like you said, though, it's US who are missing them. They are thankfully taken well care of in the hand's of God.

Rachel said...

Oh, Ashley, what a beautiful and touching tribute to your mother. <3

Joyce LaPier said...

Dear Ashlea, I do know the pain you feel. Your mother loved you more than life itself and will always shine through you. The DES hormone given to our mother during pregancy can cause cancer in both female and male adult children and may also cause infertility problems in both sexes as well. Your mom was very honest to you about her illness and protected you as well. You were like a little adult and not like most kids your age. You had a lot on your plate and you seemed so wise for a 10 year old. Her young life ended too soon at age 35 and 14 years have somehow slipped away. I believe she is in a better place and still is busy with God's plan still at hand. I will always have my door open to you and do think of you everyday. I love you like a daughter and I am thankful you have a wonderful husband Brandon and his loving family. I know your Mother would be proud of you and your accomplishments. I believe she is watching over you and would love your new family as well. It is good to celebrate and honor her life for she would not want you to be sad. I miss her and there is not a day that goes by that I don't think of her...She had such a vibrate smile and a contagious laughter...I miss most of all her laughter...So embrace life and be happy. Love you Ashlea, Aunt Joyce

Erin Finney said...

Oh Ashlea! This made me bawl my eyes out!! Thank you for sharing those memories, I don't know how you do it, my mom is 1,000 miles away and I cry weekly, even though I know I will see her in a few months. You are a very strong woman!

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