My Progress!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Why I Relay: Remembering my Mom

Create Your Own

I was thinking about a way I could motivate myself to stick with my new commitment to exercise regularly. I have to confess, that I haven't done my walks today... I need to get my ex to haul the vacuum up here so that I can clean up the last bits of dust and debris off the treadmill and then I'll be good to go. I promise to walk laps around my living room later, if I have to, but I will get the walking in. As I was trying to think about a goal to work towards, It struck me that it was Relay for Life season. I have participated in Relay for Life in the past, but the last time I participated was with my mom several years ago. As I thought about participating in a RFL team this year, I couldn't help but remember my mom.

For those of you who may not be familiar with Relay for Life, it is a 24 hr walk that raises money for the fight against the big "C" and is the American Cancer Society's signature fund-raising event. The last time I participated was in 2001, the Spring before my mother was diagnosed with Lung Cancer. My grandmother already been touched twice by cancer (breast and kidney...both primary cancers) and we had recently learned that her cancer had returned. My grandmother had also lost a brother just months before to bladder cancer. My mom and I were walking around the track and talking about the fact that we were walking in memory of Uncle Fred and in honor of my grandmother. I remember wondering silently if next Spring would find us walking in memory of my grandmother too. I never in my wildest nightmares thought the next year would be my last with both of them.

My mother had a bigger than life personality and she was loved by many people, but just as quickly as you could fall in love with her, she could piss you right the heck off. She always had lots of advice and she doled it out generously. God help you if you didn't take it...she'd have a few choice words for you then. Mom also loved a good argument and she wasn't always quick to admit when she was wrong. In spite of all that, She was an amazingly loyal and generous friend and family member who would give the shirt off her back to help those she cared about. Many people came to mom for help and advice because they knew that if Linda had your back, you were set. She was the type of person to secretly pay a friend's bills while they were going through a rough patch or anonymously send a care package to brighten their day.

We had our share of arguments as I struggled for my independence as an adult and I begged her for years to stop smoking. When she was diagnosed, I remember being so angry at her. I was angry because I thought she had been selfish continuing to smoke and now I was going to have to find a way to prepare myself and my son for her death. She didn't know it at the time, but the type of cancer she had never has a good outcome. I had been working for the American Cancer Society for some time and knew all too well what the survival statistics were like. She would be lucky to make it a year. She lasted 11 months.

At one point on the way home after one of her treatments, we stopped at a gas station and I went in to pay. I was behind this guy buying cigarettes and all I wanted to do was drag him out by his collar to look at my mother sitting in my car. I wanted to scream at him about how I'd spent the night before with her in the bathroom as she vomited from her treatment and ask him if he thought the cigarettes were worth it. I truly was raging silently inside just barely keeping a lid on all the pent up rage I had at losing my mother. Somewhere in the middle of this inner self righteous tirade, I looked from his hands holding the cigarettes to mine holding a package of twinkies and it hit me how much of a hypocrite I'd been. I was doing the same thing only with different ammunition. I wish I could say that I walked out to the car and asked for my mother's forgiveness, but I didn't. I was too ashamed. It's probably one of my deepest regrets.

I not only didn't ask for her forgiveness, but I didn't change my ways either. I'm fatter now than I was then. I've selfishly been feeding my addiction and robbing my son of years with his mother. I am dooming him to the same fate...losing his mom at much too early an age.

Today I signed up as a team captain to head my own Relay for Life team. I doubt I'm going to make it 24 hrs; I'll be lucky to make it once around the track at one time. I don't have much time to prepare for it either, but even if I'm the only one on my team, I'm going. This year I walk as an unspoken apology to my mother and as a pledge to my son that he hopefully will not have to learn what it is like to bury his mother for a very long time.

So thats why I Relay. I would encourage you to check out your local area for a Relay you might participate in. If you can't participate, consider a donation to the American Cancer Society. For more information, check out the video on Relay for Life below.

I'll keep you guys updated on my progress and thanks for reading :)

Yesterday's Food Log


Jaded said...

(((ahhh shit)))
After reading your blog and looking at the slide show of your mom's life... I am sitting here CRYING. I don't fricken cry over much at all! dang it. I lost my mom in 2004. Your blog is so convicting. I took up smoking this last year. I know, I'm an ass!! I watched my mom die and I begged and begged her to quit. She didn't die from cancer, but from heart disease. The doctors said she could have lived years longer, even decades if she would just quit. Sometimes I feel like smoking is my own way to self distruction, just as my eating was. It is so friggen hard to do the right things. Even having all that bitterness over the fact my mom couldnt quit, here I have been smoking away. I think of her everytime. ugghhh. I KNOW what I am doing. I need to be smacked around a bit! I just wanted to say thank you for writing all that. I'm still crying about your story, the loss of your mom and the loss of mine. You've convicted me tonight and I appreciate it so very much. Hugs to you

Ashley said...

You really touched me with this post, and I have to admit that I was crying. My mom, and one of my grandmothers, are avid smokers. As I watched the slideshow of your mother getting worse, I thought that I may one day be posting a slide show like this and that your mom may be mine. I couldn't contain my tears at the photo of your mom two days before she passed. I'm so scared that my mom will one day have the same fate. I'm adding RFL to one of my goals for the upcoming year or two.

On a brighter note, Tanner is adorable and you looked gorgeous on your wedding day!

wildfluffysheep said...

What an emotional post! Wow. It struck me quite hard. Thanks for sharing this about your family, in particular your mother. I wish you all the best with the relay challenge.

In July I am doing a 5k (fast walk) for breast cancer. So big kudos to you for doing something that is close to your heart.

Kate said...

I'm very sorry to hear about the battles your family has had with cancer. However, I think that your participating in Relay for Life is a wonderful, wonderful way to remember them and hopefully help others.

Val said...

I lost my Mom to Lung Cancer in 2005. She was 58. I was 24. And I'd just had my first daughter. As much as I understand the anger, I try not to focus so much on the smoking, as those who are diagnosed with Lung Cancer deal with a HUGE stigma--that being, that they 'did it to themselves, so why do they deserve research money (the funding for LC reserach is abysmally low mostly becasue of the stigma), help, or compassion?'

Just as you say here, we ALL make choices that negatively impact our health. I'm excited for you in doing the relay, and I'm glad that you are finding some semblance of peace with the smoking aspect of your Mom's journey. I wish you tons of success in your own journey to better health. I know your Mama is proud of you. :)

A Very Fairy Princess said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laryssa said...

Thank you for being so honest and sharing such a painful memory. I stopped smoking on 10/8/2007 because my hubby wanted to stop. Even with having been diagnosed with asthma in 2003, I continued to smoke half a pack of cigarettes a day; more on the weekends. Now, I'm smoke free but suffering the consequences; I'm on 3 different asthma medications. I hope your honesty encourages others to quit. Good luck on your Relay for Life!

Ria said...

What a lovely tribute to your mom - she sounds like a wonderful, wonderful person. I'm an ex-smoker myself, so I know how hard it can be to quit. Enjoying many years with your son is the best motivation in the world to get healthy, and I look forward to seeing you succeed!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your mother - you have made a very nice tribute to her and any mother would be proud of how you're honoring her legacy.

My best friend is putting off quitting smoking because she wants to focus on weight loss. It's hard to see her struggle as I know being smoke-free would greatly help her reach her "get fit" goals.

Best of Luck with Relay for Life! I am sponsoring my friend who is participating in Canada for the benefit of the Canadian Cancer Society - maybe next year I will participate myself.

Deb said...

Hi there. Thank you for visiting my blog today. I was reading through your posts and this one is so touching. I couldn't help but think what an amazing boy you must be raising seeing him cuddling and comforting his grandmother up to the end.