It’s been about 10 months since my mother lost her battle with cancer. I still remember the day in August 2011 when we found out she had cancer like it was yesterday. Mom had been having issues and was at the doctor’s. She called me in tears because a routine test was, well, moving on to more tests. It scared her and suddenly our first week of homeschool just didn’t seem important at all. She told me it would be okay but, I had this sense that I had to be there, like NOW!
I went to be with my mom. I was there when the doctor told her it was a 5-6 inch cancerous tumor in her abdomen and that there were spots on her liver as well. This is when mom and I completely broke down.
That news led to a year of painful chemo treatments, multiple hospital stays, and what I generally refer to as Homeschool Interrupted. My mom was my partner at arms. Being a teacher herself, we both homeschooled my kids. She was with us almost every single day. When she got sick, our homeschool kind of blew up. I will admit it, I let it blow up. Those lessons about the American Revolution and long division took a back seat to being there for my mom.
We were not a very affective homeschool for the school year of 2011-2012. But let me tell you what we did do. We spent countless hours in a hospital room talking, crying, and laughing with mom. We even homeschooled from that room. I still remember my mom teaching my daughter a math lesson on time using the clock from her hospital room. I remember my son going into countless details over what was going on outside mom’s hospital window to distract her from the pain and boredom of lying in that bed.
About a year ago, it was becoming clear that traditional treatments were having no affect and we started praying for miracles. I asked my mom, “what do you most want in this world?” Her response was that she wanted to spend as much time as she had with us. So, we moved her and my dad to be closer and spent most of our days with her. Life seemed to stand still. We were told 6 months. Two months later she was gone.
But in this month of gratitude and thanksgiving – I am feeling grateful for time. The time that both my children and I were allowed to spend with her. What our homeschool lost in effectiveness, we gained in precious moments that are ever irreplaceable. Just yesterday, my youngest was recalling a memory walking down a path with grandma. She was only 3 when my mother was diagnosed and 4 when she died. But, she has strong memories of grandma that will last a lifetime.
I am full of gratitude for the people that rallied around mom and the connections that were forged through her care. We were able to spend time with people like my sister, my aunts, and my mother-in-law in making memories with mom. Those people filled what otherwise would have been a very hard year with love.
But most of all, I am full of gratitude for my mother. My first and best teacher. I am full of gratitude for the lessons she taught me. So much of who I am, how I parent, and how I love I can directly trace back to her. As I move forward in life, I am grateful that I can carry those things with me. Those are gifts that endure.