"When our father died last April we were on over-load. We were trying to make funeral arrangements for dad while still focusing on mom’s health and emotional well-being. When his service came, we discussed the idea of speaking but no one felt they could make it thru the speech without crying. So we passed on the opportunity. Now, only 18 months later, as we prepared the celebration of life service for our mom, we find ourselves in the same predicament. I don’t want to look back later with regrets so here goes….
I am blessed. My family is blessed. Don’t be sad for us. Although my mom’s time on this earth was much shorter than we would have liked, Doreen was my mom, and that in itself is a gift. Many of you under the age of 35 thought of her as your “other mom” but we were the lucky ones…. and we never took that for granted.
You learn a lot about someone when they come face to face with the life and death struggle of a disease like cancer. From an emotional perspective, cancer is one of the most devastating pronouncements a person can receive. You find yourself living outside of the physical realm of reality at times….But, the truth is, when you hear the word “cancer” you have an immediate choice to make. You can get caught up in the idea that you might be dying…. Or you can get busy living. What happens to you in life is usually not within your control, but how you respond to those things most certainly is.
I don’t want to talk about the things I have lost these past few years….I want to focus on what I have gained. I learned early on that the character traits worth having are those you acquire at the cost of personnel sacrifice. We have all sacrificed during these difficult times but I wouldn’t change one step I have taken on this path. We have been living in the moment while still focusing on the big picture. Life did not pass us by.
My mom will be fondly remembered for the compassion in her heart. She loved and respected everyone, regardless of their differences. Her kindness and encouragement to others makes for a legacy that will remain long after her death… and for that we are grateful.
There are a lot of young people in the room today, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. She loved kids, and young adults. She valued everyone, regardless of their age and she made them feel important. She especially loved the inspirational kids who might not be the star athlete but the ones with the best attitudes, who made their teammates and friends better people. Those are the kids she loved the most, and those are the kind of kids we will continue to support and mentor, just as my mom would want us to.
She taught me… the kind of person I am is a matter of my character, not my circumstances. And I learned that from the best. When my mom could not change her circumstances, she chose to change her perspective about them. She didn’t view cancer as a curse, she viewed life as an amazing gift.
My mom inspired me to do better… to be kinder… and be more patient. She taught me to give more, and take less. She would encourage all of us to motivate others and take the time to mentor young people. I think she would also encourage us to volunteer our time…. Or at least a smile… to people who might not expect it, but probably need it the most. Because… the truth is, no one was a stranger to my mom, they were simply a friend she hadn’t met yet.
I learned that tough times will either break you, or they will make you. I think it’s fair to say we’ve had a few moments of each, but we did more “making” than “breaking”. Although I was slow to give into the idea that some things in life can’t be fixed…. life became much easier when I finally accepted that the only thing in the world I could change was my view on life.
Mom made me realize that if you’re not doing something every day to make someone else’s life better, you are wasting precious time that could be spent improving your family, your community, and yourself. I hope we all get the chance to live like we are dying someday, because from where I’m standing, it’s a blessing in disguise.
I am not consumed by the fact she has died, I am simply grateful that she lived. I would choose quality of life over quantity of days, whenever given the opportunity. I believe the greater loss is not for those of us who knew her, but for those who did not. My sadness is for the children who will never sit on her lap and giggle as she speaks to them in her “Donald Duck” voice… or the young adults who won’t get to hear one of her heart felt talks about what it means to be a good friend… or a good parent.
Throughout this process I have learned that when we believe life won’t give us more than we can bear; we can bear so much more than we thought possible.
On behalf of my family, I want to express our sincere gratitude for your out-pouring of support, love, and heartfelt sympathy during this difficult time. We ask that you dry your eyes, keep your head up, and smile…. That’s what mom would want."