Why do I think my mother was so strong? I will share a few things that are a testament of her strength. My father died unexpectedly at the age of 40. My mother and father were on vacation and my mom was gearing up to start her new job on the following Monday. My father stepped outside and was struck by lightening and died instantly. We buried my father that week and my mother started her new job on Monday and didn’t tell anyone that she had just buried her husband the week before, and that she was left with three kids to support.
She never missed a day of work for sickness and I don’t remember her ever being sick until she was diagnosed with cancer. Even going through chemo she made her appointments late in the day and still never missed work, even though she felt terrible. She always said “why would I stay home? To feel sorry for myself?“ By the time that she was diagnosed with cancer all of her kids were grown and out of the house and she lived alone. She went to work, chemo, came home and did it all again. Every time that we go to chemo now and see a woman sitting there by herself we all think about my mom and we instantly feel sad for the woman sitting there alone. Later in her fight with cancer she was diagnosed with bone and liver disease. Both are excruciating but she still went to work and tried chemo one more time to try to ease the pain. She worked until two weeks before she died. Her biggest fear was that she would be a burden on us and that we would have to take care of her. The first day that we would have had to take care of her by ourselves she died in her sleep at home. She never wanted to be in the hospital and never wanted oxygen or anything to help her in the final days. The last day she was struggling terribly. We tried to put oxygen on her so she could breathe and get some sleep. We tried everything to try to get her to put the oxygen on. My mom told us in no uncertain terms that she would not put the oxygen on. I had to laugh that even in her final hours we were not going to tell her what to do. That’s my mom and I loved her for it. I thought it was so her. Just a last reminder that she was one tough lady.
One other piece of advice that my mother gave me when I was whining about something. “Syndi, there are people in this world with a lot bigger problems than you will ever have.” My mother didn’t correct me often but when she did I took her words to heart. I have always remembered that and I know that no matter what my trial is, there is someone out there who has way bigger trials than I could ever imagine. Thank you for that.
We are her legacy and I hope that we are living up to what she expected of us. I know that this blog is about Dakota and his journey but she laid the groundwork for how we handle this. I love you mom and you will always be my hero and the strongest person that I ever knew, or ever will know. Thank you for being such a great example for me and making me the person that I am today. I am so thankful that you were picked especially for me. I love you Mom.
Grace Watkins - my mom