I have been blessed with many wonderful women who have or continue to inspire me during my life. However, I would like to tell you a little about the most important woman who gave me life, my mom. She taught me so many things, but the one thing she never taught me was how much my life would change without her in it.
She was a Social Worker and a stay at home mom until I, being the eldest, was around 10 years old. From a very young age we all were expected to do chores. I can remember my sister, who around three and a half and I around five, standing on chairs at the kitchen sink washing and drying all the dishes after dinner.
One of my earliest memories of her in the kitchen was making the dough for her delicious homemade bread. Puffs of flour clouds rose from the table as I stood on my tiptoes watching her. I remember her smiling as she bent down placing some of the flour on the tip of my nose!
When I was old enough she started to teach me how to cook certain meals. After she returned to work I had to cook for the family, and yes, there were a lot of jello molds for dessert! I am sure if you asked my siblings they would agree!
Another favorite memory as a child was waking up one Christmas morning and the tree was lit and full of packages. There were two fur coats, hanging by the tree. One for my little sister and one for me. We rushed and put them on, modeling them for all to see! Now as an adult I know she had to have spent every free minute sewing them while we were sleeping.
She returned to work as a Social Worker for a local children’s home. One Christmas she brought home two little foster children who had no where to go. They must have been no older than three or four years old. We had so much fun preparing for that Christmas. It was no longer about what we were going to receive but what we were going to give to those two little boys. I wonder where they are now, but I am sure they never forgot that Christmas, I know I haven’t.
After we moved from New York to Puerto Rico our home became the party place. It seemed that every weekend we had some event and the entire extended family would be there. I can still hear the music and laughter coming from that gazebo. The food magically appeared and there was always enough for everyone.
Later we have learned that she was dealing with many disappointments in her life, but never complained about anything. As kids we were sheltered from anything negative that may have been going on. She loved us with all her heart and soul and we knew it.
She taught us how to take care of ourselves early on. I will always be grateful for that insight as it has helped me during my life’s challenges. We didn’t need to depend on anyone, just ourselves and our wherewithal! I learned to cook, sew, clean, do laundry and take care of a home way before I ever went off to college.
My mom didn’t believe parents and children should be pals, buddies, friends, she was the parent and we were always her kids. However, in my eyes she was my best friend. We talked all the time on the phone. She was always so fair, if I was doing something wrong she would tell me, at times she even took my then husband’s side over mine. She was always there for advice if we needed her.
In 1992 my dad and mom called and told us that they were coming to visit us in Florida. We were always so excited with their visits. My kids would call them Grandpa and Grandma Airplane because they always had to fly to us for their visits!
They arrived and soon my mom sat with us and told us that she had to see a doctor. My dad was also surprised, she hadn’t told him anything. He thought they were just coming for a fun vacation, as did we. She said that she had a lump in her breast that needed to be checked.
We quickly got her in to see the doctor. Little did we know that the “lump” as she called it, was an actual large mass already protruding out of her skin. I remember sitting with her and my dad waiting for her to have the CT scan. I was so scared and had a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach.
The CT came back and when I looked at it, it was as if her bones were Swiss cheese. There were actual numerous holes up and down her hip and leg bones. I was sick. I then realized that she must have been in terrible pain, but never complained. I knew I was going to lose my mom and soon.
My dear mom lasted around 18 months after her arrival to Florida. She died in 1993. I miss her so much. I always thought she would be there to see all her grandchildren marry and have kids. It was months before I finally stopped picking up the phone to call her.
My mom was a blessing to all of us and to all the people who crossed her path. She is the woman who to this day inspires me. Did she teach me how life would be without her? No, I never imagined losing her so early. Little did I know that each lesson she did teach me was going to be a lesson on how to survive without her. Thank you Mom, I will forever be grateful to you and for everything you taught me. I love and miss you so much.
Before I close, I must first say that her death was most likely preventable. She never went to the doctor, never had mammograms, or even a simple breast self-exam. She eventually found the tumor but never told anyone, not even a doctor. Please check out how to do a Breast Self-Exam here and please get your yearly mammograms.
Do you have someone in your life that inspires you? Or special childhood memories? Please share them with us, we would love to hear your stories.