Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cancer Sucks

Today marks the seven year anniversary of my mother's death after a 21 month battle with ovarian cancer. In the spirit of rememberance I would like to share some things about this remarkable woman:  Carolyn.

Let's start with ovarian cancer. Although it is where HER story ended I do not want to end MY story of her with cancer.

According to  Ovarian Cancer Awareness Foundation:

...most patients with ovarian cancer do not have any complaints, which explains why some have called this disease a “silent killer.” Only after the cancer becomes very advanced does the patient complain of vague abdominal discomfort, pain, or distention. Other symptoms may be back pain, weight gain, fatigue and gastrointestinal symptoms, such as gas. There are no specific symptoms for ovarian cancer, and it is often confused with other illnesses. In some fortunate cases, early ovarian cancers have been identified during a routine pelvic exam. A physician usually feels an unusual mass during a rectal and vaginal exam. Subsequently, an ultrasound or CT scan is usually ordered which identifies a suspicious mass with a solid/cystic component.

So that's it on her death. There is an entire internet on ovarian cancer, but only a few people's brains on Carolyn and today's post is about her...not cancer.

First of all, we should acknowledge her superior cooking skills- and Domino's Pizza would like to award the "Double Cheese with Black Olives" Award to Carolyn, posthumously, for single handedly keeping one location open throughout the 1980's. Delivered home cooking, pie style, was Carolyn's fortΓ©, and it shouldn't be overlooked.

If you aren't reading 14 books right now instead of hanging out with PEOPLE, then you're doing something wrong. This is Tao of Carolyn, and I for one take it seriously.  See a previous post for confirmation.

When I was on the swim team in elementary school, there were very many swim meets, especially Championship meets, that my mom couldn't attend because she was a working single mom. She always told me:

Carry a penny and think of me.

And she would give me a penny.

My husband and I got married far away from home in a private ceremony before a judge. We're very efficient that way! Rather than fly my mom out for a 15 minute ditty we decided that I should carry a penny. It was more of a joke than a directive. Unbeknownst to her, I chose a penny from the year of my birth and carried it on that day. The following Mother's Day I mailed her the penny which I had had set into a necklace. I reminded her that I had carried the penny, thought of her, and she could be a part of my wedding day every time she carried the same penny. Now that she's gone...I complete the circle, thinking of her thinking of me.

When my younger sister was in high school, a few of her guy friends stopped by to see if she wanted to hang out but she wasn't home. My mom told them as much and expected that to be the end of it. CURVE BALL! The teen aged, high school boys asked if they could stay and maybe Mom would watch some TV with them.

Let's be clear, my mom wasn't a MILF...but she was a spectacluar person who made people feel at ease and comfortable. Even at the high school boy level. It's what made her be the kind of alcohol and drug dependency counselor who inspired clients to attend her funeral and tell me, "No one ever cared about me or listened to me like your mom did...I don't know what I'll do without her." 

Neither do I.

She was the first person to have imaginitive play with my first son, and it was incredible to watch. A little man-child serving his grandmother "hot tea" and blowing on it, drinking it, and spitting it out because it was "HOT!"  Giggling like nothing else mattered. It didn't.

THIS is a woman who loved with her full heart and who found the good in everyone. She had a Buddha nature without realizing it, and I admire it to this day. 

THIS is the mom who is mine. 

If you are a reader who knew her, please feel free to share your memories here.  Maybe wherever she is, there's WiFi...  If she's nowhere, please do it for me.  Because I'm still here and trying to raise my arms out wide to life without the unspeakable love a mother bestows on her children when she is the kind of woman Carolyn was.

**And if you're a reader who has lost someone special and you want to share a story here, DO IT!!  This is a day of remembering and of sharing.  I'd love to read your special person's story!!


  1. Thank you for sharing. My mom has only been gone less than 2 years and it still hurts BUT this story made me smile and reminded me of how wonderful I thought my mom was. My mom didn't do near as much as Carolyn but she was loved by many! ( in fact my mom was kind of a prima donna). Her memorial service was SRO. The main thing I want to share about my mother was that she loved me when I gave her every reason to hate me. Life without our mothers sucks BUT she is right here and so is yours. Love

  2. πŸ’› you, Ric. I hope you're finding enough in your memories to let her keep speaking to you!

  3. I read this every time. Still cry like a baby. Carolyn was awesome and amazing and all that. I raise a glass of vino in her honor. (Damn autocorrect wants me to raise a glass of *bono*... wtf?)

    1. Well, I can tell you that if Colombia House Records offered a U2 cassette as part of the free 15 you could get before you had to buy 45 more in the next year for the low, low price of $24.99 each, you definitely would have gotten a Bono tape from mom. It's kind of like a message from beyond the grave! πŸ‘»πŸ‘»πŸ‘»πŸ‘»

  4. And here are the words I waited to read all day. I'm not sure if I ever shared with you or not, but I was always a little envious of the relationship you and your mom had. You spoke your minds to one another, loved one another, leaned on one another and shared the same kind of intellect and compassion for people. Although, she always appeared to be more compassionate than you...thanks mainly to that sarcastic wit of yours. You are so much like her, and in the ways you're not, you carry that part of her with you anyway.
    Cancer sucks, our club sucks, but Carolyn rocks!

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