Wake Up Call: Life is for the Living

This week I had to travel to my hometown unexpectedly to help my father recover from some complex back surgery.

I cherish the feeling of being needed and being able to help.  I am the baby of the family and I was always babied growing up. However, at this point in my life, the tables have turned; my roles seem to have morphed into taking care of my children as well as my parent(s) whenever I can.

Selfishly, I do not enjoy going home and staying in my old house without Mom being there – it’s merely a hollow shell of a home that was overflowing with sights and sounds and bustling energy. I now walk in the door and the house is dark and quiet and I’m no longer greeted by Mom’s warm smile and loving blue eyes.  Usually she’d walk out from the kitchen area to greet me, donned in her apron, clearly in the middle of cooking one of her gastronomic masterpieces.

Instead, I now walk around the rooms and feel sorry for myself that I was a motherless daughter at 37.  I feel sorry for my dad that he lost the love of his life after 44 years of marriage.  I think about my kids who now have just a tiny handful of  memories of Meema alive (and none of those memories are of her cancer-free).

But, while at home, something changed and clicked.

I brought life back into Mom’s kitchen. It was the first time I mustered up the confidence to cook some of Mom’s dishes for Dad. As I surveyed her incredible assortment of pots and pans, and pre-heated her oven, and witnessed the organized chaos of her kitchen drawers, I smiled.

I smiled because I was finally restocking the kitchen with those familiar savory smells of food sauteeing and baking.

I smiled because I FINALLY realized that even though Mom eventually lost her valiant battle with breast cancer, we were still so lucky.

We were lucky because Mom was able to live 5 years longer than anyone had ever expected.

And boy did she teach us all a lesson about LIVING.

Even with the marathon chemo treatments and the hospital stays and the constant radiation to her head and the hair loss and the major weight loss, she-never-ever-complained-or-gave-up-her-will-to-live.

Somehow, she was able to put on a show and project that her life was normal.

She cooked until the very end – and still eeked pleasure from it.

She traveled until the very end.

She was even able to meet and provide the most unconditional love to all six of her grandchildren.

Even though she always said she felt as though, with cancer, she had “one foot on a banana peel,” she certainly proved that her other foot was firmly planted on the ground.

And, best of all, thanks to dedicated organizations like The American Cancer Society (see below), Mom was able to reach and celebrate her 66 birthday just weeks before she died – a feat that once seemed like a pipe dream…

Disclosure:  This post was sponsored by the American Cancer Society. I was compensated for writing this post however, all opinions expressed are my own. 


  1. it was so wonderful to see you navigating your way around mom’s kitchen. i loved being in the kitchen together making meals for dad – just like mom used to do. love you shari! your one and only sis

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