“Debbie”:http://sternski.com/debbie _is a dear friend of mine who lost her mom this year to cancer. It was fairly sudden – which I know from experience is both a blessing and a curse. Joyce lasted mere weeks from diagnosis to passing. Debbie has been through so much this year, I can’t even imagine. Here are Debbie’s words about her mama:_

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I tried to think of a way to describe my mother’s life. She was a wife, a daughter, a daughter-in-law, a mother, a grandmother and a friend. But within all of those roles, she was always a caregiver. She cared for us kids and made childhood something to remember fondly. She cared for my grandmother, Ruth, for several years so that she was able to live in her home as long as possible. She cared for my dad for several years as well. And this was not an easy task. For those of you that knew my dad – he was not an easy patient. I think that mom earned herself a special place in heaven having taken care of so many with so much love over the years.

But for me she was my mom and also my friend. I know that some mothers and daughters can have volitile relationships, especially during the teen years. But we never did. We always got along well, even when I was not behaving properly. She would certainly call me on my bad behavior, but never in a way which made me resentful. She would just tell me to knock it off, and that’s usually all it took.

My childhood friend, Naomi, said that she was a “fun mom”. I definitely agree with her. When Naomi would come for dinner, she would set the kitchen table with the good dishes. She would give us apple juice in wine glasses and serve us as if we were at a fine restaurant. She made us feel like little debutantes and we loved every minute.

When my dad would be out of town, mom would make a big bowl of popcorn – in a Revere Ware pan with hot oil (and she never seemed to burn it!). We would watch Love Boat, Dallas and Fantasy Island. It was our Friday night routine. I don’t know if I ever told her how much those evenings watching TV meant to me.

I asked her grandkids what they will remember about grandma. Alan said.he will remember her kindness. Jared said that he loved her peanut butter sandwiches – how she always cut them diagonally. Becca said she will remember how she and Grandma would play the scratch lottery tickets when she would visit us and that grandma always had candy. Her grandchildren brought my mom a lot of joy.

I think many people remember the food their mothers made. For me it will be chicken, potato salad and snickerdoodle cookies. My mom could cut up a chicken like nobody’s business. She tried to show me the proper technique, but I never really got the hang of it. Mom would make me snickerdoodle cookies when I would come home from school because I couldn’t eat choclate as a child. They are still my favorite. She did enjoy her candy, spice drops and jelly beans were some of her favorites. She never liked spicy food, but she loved barbequed pork with hot mustard. Her potato salad, split pea soup and oyster stew are legendary.

Mom also enjoyed card games and gambling. We played a lot of cribbage in our family while I was growing up. Mom always enjoyed Bingo. When I was small she was part of a Bingo club – people would take turns hosting the group for lunch and bingo. In the summers I got to go play bingo with mom and Grandma Glover on Fridays. In recent years she enjoyed going on casino trips and playing the slots. One time she even won $1000 on a scratch ticket.

Her illness was short, but I was impressed with how she handled it. She just faced it head on. Might as well have a good attitude she would say, a bad outlook doesn’t help anyone. She did everything she could to give herself more time with all of us. She did all of the therapy and treatments that were suggested. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, radiation treatments and even chemo. She never gave up. I hope to take some of that strength and grace with me through the rest of my life.

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I love you whole bunches and whole lots mom. I will miss you every day.