Tuesday, May 13, 2014


When I went to the farm to help take care of my mom last November, I didn't expect to lose her so fast. None of us did.  I had only two days with her at the farm before she went into the hospital -- and then she never came home.  Stupid cancer.  I never dreamed she wouldn't be back at the farm for Thanksgiving - our big family shindig with truckloads of food, laughter and love.

Mom was diagnosed with late-stage uterine cancer and by the time she was admitted to the hospital it had destroyed her pelvis and part of her lower spine.  Until right before she went into the hospital, she was still up walking around.    She was so darn tough.

They say people's personalities become more prominent when they are sick.  Mom's grace and courage and especially her sense of humor were magnified.  She was always kind to the nurses and endlessly stubborn and funny with her palliative care doctor.  They all loved her.

Watching her die of this horrible, painful cancer was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life.  Every day was a different medical crisis as her condition worsened.  Thank goodness for my brother and my Aunt Sandi because we all took turns taking care of her 24/7.  As bad as it was sometimes, I wouldn't have traded my time with her for anything.

You know all of those petty things that drive you nuts about your parents?   Those things went by the wayside when I was with mom those three weeks. Everything was distilled down into the best parts of a mother/daughter relationship.   Now that I have kids of my own I know to the core of my being how much my mom loves my brother and me.  I'll never forget one time in the hospital when Dave and I were standing on either side of her bed holding her hands and she was completely, totally happy.

A funny thing happened before mom went into the hospital.  She told me a story that I had never heard before and I've been wanting to share it.  Why she choose this particular time to tell me, I'll never know. But I'm so glad that she did.  It goes like this...

When Mom was in high school she was dating a cowboy and was at a rodeo watching him compete.  While she was sitting in the stands waiting for the next bull rider to come out of the chutes, her name came over the loud speaker. The next thing she knew her boyfriend and his friend had picked her up, carried her to the chutes and set her on the bull.  That was mom's eight seconds of fame! They had secretly registered her for the event and she never even saw it coming.

A while ago someone asked me (my Argentine friends), "are you a cowgirl?"  Well, I guess that question might come up now and again if you live in Wyoming.  My mom most definitely had some cowgirl in her and I'd like to think that I do too - and that it came from my mom.  Truthfully I hope that there's a lot of my mom in me.  I miss you Mom.

Mom on the far right in front of the pump house.

Mom and Laura shucking corn, seems like a long time ago that Laura was this little.
In front of the make-shift dance floor built for the Centennial celebration.

Post script:
About a month after Mom died, my two best friends in Lander took me to Jackson for a weekend getaway.  We skied in Grand Teton National Park and that night went out to the Cowboy Bar.  While were standing near the dance floor, drinking and listening to the band, a tall handsome cowboy from Big Piney grabbed my hand and swung me onto the dance floor.  Like my mom, I love to dance.  It doesn't matter if it's in the kitchen or on top of a mountain pass or on a dance floor.   He was a great dancer and I suspect he was heaven-sent to spin the grief right out of me, at least for one evening.  The only thing he asked me all night, was, "what's your story?"  And so I told him that we were in Jackson having a girlfriend weekend to honor my mom. 

Post ski beers in Grand Teton National Park.