New Way to be Human

Nov. 18 2004, my Mom was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer. I started this blog to chronicle her journey. July 19, 2005 she gave her life in the battle. This blog is my place to process through the journey I walked along with her, and now my journey through grief. It's also a place to discuss the effects cancer has on the lives it touches--survivors and caregivers alike. I'm a Navy wife, a Mom, and my mother's daughter now and forever.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A Tale of Four Junes....

June of 2003--

I was fresh out of college, engaged, and getting ready for my wedding. I was living with Mom and Dad. Mom and I picked out flowers together at Garden Gate florist. Mom assured me that 'they'd know how to help us.' She was right.

The night before the wedding we had a everyone over to their house for pizza. Mom was in high-gear worrying about entertaining everyone. We stayed up late--Mom, Dad, my brother-in-law, Brad, and his wife, Stacey--and played Trivial pursuit. Mom and Dad got all the sex questions right. Mom got all the sports one... Also most of the rest. Situation normal.

The day of the wedding her best friend came over and did our hair for the ceremony. It might not have been out of a fashion magazine, but it looked nice and got the job done. Mom looked amazing in her beautiful pink, dress. I don't think I ever saw her look more beautiful.

And then the next morning, I went to her house, and hugged her. She loaned us her truck for the honeymoon (it was more dependable than my S-10), and we headed off to start our life together as a married couple.

June of 2004--

Andy had finished Basic Training and A School. We'd lived in Pensacola for only three short months, but something stirred me to go home before moving to Washington. I needed my Mom and Dad. I needed the familiarity of their home. I didn't know why, but I needed to be there.

Father's Day, Andy and I woke up. He was leaving for Washington that day and I was staying behind because I needed to. I indelicately peed on a stick, and found out that I was going to have a baby. I kept it to myself until I could go to the doctor to pee on a more official stick...

Except that there was Mom... and she kept asking when I Was going to make her a Grandma... And I just HAD to at least hint.

She caught on quick and was elated--but cautious--taking cues from me.... I chided myself for giving in so easily, but it was wonderful to share the secret with my Mom.

I went to the doctor and tested really, truly pregnant, ran to the mall, and picked up the "Grandmother" figurine made by Willow Tree. Then I rushed home and gave it to her. She exploded with joy. She ran around for days smiling, bouncing, giggling. She was giddy in a way I'd never seen her before.

She also yelled at me for having taken on some Republican leanings--JUST SOME! (Don't worry, I've come to my senses a bit!).

June of 2005

Again, I needed to be home. My Mom needed me. These were the last days of her life. She sat in her chair, and I sat in mine, and she just revelled in being awake--in smelling the air. She watched Carolyn, and cried because she didn't have the strength to hold her. She ooed and ahhed over all of her outfits.

She told me stories about when she was young--she knew it was time to pass on the history.

Some of her last really Mom-like days were in June of last year.

June of 2006

My Mom is gone. My daughter is turning quickly into a little girl. And I... I barely resemble the Val of four years ago. This Val is sadder, more compassionate, more serious, more adult, more somber.... But I like her better. (She still has plenty of childlikeness--Mom wouldn't have had it any other way).

Four Junes... Three years...

So very much happened.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Let Me Tell You About My Mom....

So I have this blog here... Which started to be about dealing with my Mom having cancer, and has become a place to process my grief after her death.

And it occurs to me, that although every page here seems to be about my Mom, you get no real feel for what kind of a woman she is/was.

To give you an idea of the essence of my Mom: I would come to her with normal daughter-type problems, venting about such and such or so and so who frustrated me that day. Invariably her reply was, "Val. When are you gonna learn to tell them to FU*K off?"

The woman loved trivial pursuit. I mean loved it. Not only did she clean house on the normal old trivia questions, but the woman knew her sports--I mean she knew miniscule little facts that most guys couldn't scare up. And so, she was unbeatable at Trivial Pursuit.

When I was young--I'd say younger than ten, Mom taught me the phrase, "Male Dominant Stupid Gene." She taught the phrase so well that I used it confidently. I'm almost positive that my Dad's family was convinced I was going to grow to become a Femi-nazi.

Mom worked at Maytag Refrigeration for many years. When the plant closed she worked a job that required her to travel from one side of the plant to the other very frequently. To ease the strain of all that cement-pounding, she used a tricycle. No, I'm serious--a tricycle. It was a grown-up's tricycle, but a tricycle nonetheless.

So this no-nonsense woman who I'm sure would still love for me to learn to tell people to "Fu*K off," was also so nurturing, that probably 20 people other than me called her, "Mom." Folks at work, friends of mine, lots and lots of people claimed her as a person who nurtured them, cared for them, looked out for them. That makes me proud.

But despite that, I'm the only one who can truly say now and forever, "That's MY MOM."