So today, which marks her very last cancer treatment – ever – I salute this everyday saint, and I tip my hat (and my keyboard) to her in a nod of genuine admiration.
Simple adjectives can’t do her justice. Perhaps this list will instead:
She has written us a Christmas letter every year of our lives and still sends us Valentines, nevermind that some of us are nearly 40. She makes chocolate lollipops and Martha-inspired crafts for the hundreds of kids she teaches, lovingly wrapping cellophane and tying small ribbon bows until the wee hours of morning. And, when former students excitedly approach her in the grocery store to say hello (as they often do, some more than 10 years later) she remembers their names. They gush to us that they love our mom. Yes, we say, we’re pretty fond of her too. In fact, we think we’ll keep her.
She is a pint-sized powerhouse who cooks meals for women in shelters and reads to the developmentally disabled. It’s not unusual for her to make friends with total strangers on trains or in waiting rooms, and part ways telling them that she’s going to pray for them (then she actually does it, too.)
Her house is always sparkling and cozy. She’ll bring you anything, to anywhere at any hour (“You kids want chicken cutlets?” At 3am? She’s firing up the oven as we speak), and she shows her affection by overfeeding her loved ones to frightening excess. Holidays in our house are near-fatal.
She caused the nurses, who admitted to fighting over who got to treat her (and that they keep all of her handwritten notes), to grow teary-eyed from her thank you’s. Photos of her proud smile earned over 50 cyber “Likes,” no 60…no 70, within minutes of upload. And at lunch, when news of our celebration reached the kitchen in our swanky downtown restaurant, she hugged the stunned chef who came out to shake her hand. She is tiny, but she is enormous. She didn’t just beat her disease, she decimated it. She pulverized the odious beast until it became a fine, silky powder, and then blew it from her upturned palm into the breeze as she smiled.
People always say that their parents are their heroes. I’m sure they mean it, too. But I’m miles past moderate levels of praise when I say that my mother is the embodiment of everything that is right in the world. She is selfless, she is faithful, and god damn her, she’s never wrong.
And right now she would tell you to remember those who haven’t come out the other side yet. Those who won the battle but lost the war. The ones who work in the trenches every day, search for the answer, collect for the cause, and those who are only just meeting their foe now. My mom doesn’t forget you, so neither will I.
Here’s hoping you find such a fearless wingwoman in your lives. Here’s hoping it’s all blue skies from here on out, and here’s saluting those who are still in the fight.
Thank you for listening.