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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom

Today is my mom's 78th birthday. We are happy to be celebrating it. It is also the one year anniversary of when she started chemotherapy to fight the stage 3 ovarian cancer that had invaded her body. One year ago, we were all scared, shocked, and sad. This has clearly been the hardest year of my mom's life, my dad's life, my life. I will offer some comments on the past year in the weeks ahead, but today is a day of jubilee and I want this entry to be a celebration of life, my mom's life of 78 years and of life in general that we no longer take for granted.
My mom is a fun-loving person. Often, if not always, the life of the party, people just flock around her. I have never met a friend of hers who hasn't just gushed about what an amazing person Rose Ann is. Sometimes it's embarrassing, maybe even a little annoying. I mean, there is a flaw in there somewhere. But the world in which Rose Ann inhabits is a world that sees only her generous spirit, her kind compassion, her strong and trustworthy leadership. It's flattering and wonderful to see how well-loved your mom is.
My mom is one of the greatest athletes ever. She would easily have been a pro something, or an Olympic softball player but she lived during the wrong era for female athletes. I remember when we were kids getting a game of baseball, football or basketball together in the neighborhood. My brother and I would wander into the group and all of our friends would ask, "Is your mom going to play. If she is, we get her." When I was in college she played pick-up basketball with my friends and sank a lot of shots. When I turned 40, she was 70, and we played Laser Tag and she won. I think she got sympathy passes from everyone. They all felt bad shooting at an older lady! She and my dad would play two men in doubles tennis and consistently win. She'd beat the guys in golf with her crushingly long drives and amazing scrambling short game around the green. She broke a friend's nose while playing park league softball. You get the picture. She was a stud athlete.
She also has the highest pain threshold of anyone I've ever known. When explaining this to others I just said, "Yeah, she's a tough cookie. She pulled her own tooth once because it was bugging her. Didn't even flinch." In the meantime, my dad and I were passed out on the floor because the mere thought of it had caused us to faint.
Her oncologist told us that if she hadn't been in the shape she was in or as strong as she was when the cancer attacked, he didn't think she could've survived the rigorous treatment. All those years of dominance on the sports field paid off as the IV poured poison into her system.
The irony of chemotherapy is that it sucks the life right out of you in order to put life back into you. It's been hard to see her weakened condition over the past year. We've had to accept some limits in the pace in which she can do life. But the gift to us all is that she is indeed DOING LIFE! What more could you ask for? I am so thankful that she's here today so we can celebrate who she is for the 78th time!
So here's to you your strength, to your toughness, to your will to live which allows us to celebrate YOU today and everyday that the gift of life is ours to enjoy with you.