A year ago today, at about the time that I am starting to write this, my mom’s body shut down. She had a great life, though shorter than we would have liked, that ended with many years of dictating the terms she could with her battle with cancer. I hesitate to say that she died on this day as she reached out to me on the 9th to say goodbye and that she was letting go of her body. Cancer had turned her body into a ravaged battle ground, for many years the damage was manageable and my mom was able to get in some of the traveling she wanted and dedicated a lot of her time volunteering for things dear to her heart like the Friends of Archaeology, Santa Fe Folk Festival, Indian Market, Spanish Colonial Market, etc. We were fortunate in that the cancer wasn’t overpowering until the last several months. We were able to have one last Christmas together (my mom’s favorite time of year) and even though she was almost unable to walk at the time, we all very much enjoyed the family time and holidays. It wasn’t until February that it became apparent that the cancer had gotten too systemic to keep up with. Back in December we had known that the treatments weren’t having their wanted effect, but you always want to hold out for some hope. Until that last month, we were able to carry on conversations quite well – in that regard alone, I count our family very blessed as I know that too many other families have to go through the process with months to years of incoherence dotted with few points of lucidity.
I can’t say that she lost the fight; she chose how to live her life with what was presented to her and for the parts that she couldn’t control, she did her best let go and become one with it. Of course she was pissed at times, how could she not be; however the majority of her choices were to do the best with what she was able to and if the body wasn’t able to do so, adjust as necessary (or in some cases overcome the body with sheer willpower). She got to see and know both of her grandchildren. Unfortunately, our youngest may not remember much beyond what we tell her as she was two when my mom passed away. Our oldest however, remembers her well and talks about her fairly frequently. The legacies that my mom left to, and with, our family are many – far too many to even realize currently.
I was going to make this post a long one and go into some of the great trips we shared – cross country skiing, camping, trips to OR, Chaco, and my high school graduation trip to Europe with her are definitely high lights. Those are all stories that I will tell, but for today, I’m going to keep it at this and go play with my kids – it is after all what my mom would prefer to see me do, maybe we’ll even go for a hike.