It wasn’t hard to make the decision. Laying in the Hospice Center late last night it suddenly came to me while looking over at her through the dim evening lights. She had lived a life of joy in every circumstance – that was the answer.
Shortly before mom stopped speaking – days before the cancer stole her ability to talk – she asked me to write about our family. When I asked her what she meant, she simply replied “tell them what a great family we were.” Through tearful eyes I corrected her and replied “what a great family we are, mom.” And with that, a promise was made.
I’ve decided to inaugurate a new blog dedicated to a woman who lived joy throughout her 75 years. She made it a habit to always look on the bright side of life with unfailing hope and faith in God. Her very presence encouraged others to do the same and when one left her company, they were better for it.
It is fitting then to begin with hope – a theological virtue that is essential for a person to live in joy. Hope can be described simply as “not giving up” and this would be an accurate description of my mom. She taught her three children to reach for the stars, regardless of ability or talent and to pray unceasingly. The combination of these two was a recipe for lasting success in life.
Unfortunately today, I see kids giving up when they don’t win first prize or get all the attention. Mom had no patience for this type of thinking and trusted that God had a plan and it was up to us to realize our own path with hard work, faith, hope and love for one another. I can honestly say that she got it right! Thankfully, she passed this plan on to her children and grandchildren and we are the beneficiaries of her hopeful outlook on life!
Over these past three years, hope was a virtue that she modeled so heroically to everyone who knew her. From her oncologist at Dana Farber to the women in her book club, she was admired as a woman of deep faith and hope. Many people didn’t even know she had stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer (she never smoked!) which had metastasized to her brain. She didn’t tell them – only those who needed to know, knew her full diagnosis. She had hope in God and lived her life in joy – laughing often with her husband, children and grandchildren.
I’ll close with one of the many quotes that mom and I shared over the years. We would text each other in the morning – just a little something to support and inspire each other for the day. I sent this to her on January 21, 2016 shortly after she began a new chemo treatment. She was concerned about the change but remained dignified and graceful. I was always so impressed with how she handled the painful challenges of the treatments. I guess I shouldn’t have been – it is grace…it is God…it is love in the soul of his beloved daughter.
“If you are aware of God’s presence, high above the deafening storm, the sun will always be shining on you; and deep below the roaring and destructive waves, peace and calm will reign in your soul.” St. Josemaria