It doesn’t change who we are

This was a difficult weekend.

I’ve stayed determined to keep a positive tone throughout this blog, and as much as I’d love to sugarcoat this, it’s not fair to anyone, anything or the situation at hand to say anything differently.

There were moments of overwhelming sadness, coupled with truly special moments amongst family and close friends.  The disease has certainly progressed, and while things may look bleak to many from the outside, it has yet to change who mom is.  Dad has repeated a refrain which I’ve adopted and followed closely, when he says “Cancer doesn’t change who your mother is.”

Every time she started a phone call over the weekend, she’d begin by asking about one of her Uncle’s or beginning the day by asking me how the Sox did last night.  She would maintain her ladylike disposition and apologize profusely for a bout of hiccups brought upon by her medication, or when she’d apologize for rinsing her mouth out in the sink to try to alleviate some of the discomfort from the increase of canker sores.  Every text message Scott and I took from our wives was met with mom passing along her love.  Rather than let the crushing reality of her situation engulf her every thought, she’s managed to keep her focus where she wants it: her family, her friends, and maintaining a normalcy to her daily life.

That simple motto is something more than a simple motto.  There’s just something about that phrase that is so true and profound that it demands deeper thought and introspection.  On the surface, it’s totally accurate to suggest that aside from any physical changes, cancer doesn’t change who anyone is.  It has the potential to reveal who someone truly is, both the patient, and the loved ones.  It reveals, repeats and magnifies some of the things we already know about people while at the same time exposing some of what we don’t know.

Mom is the epitome of these revelations.  I’ve always known mom was stubborn, but never knew how damned tough she is.  I knew she was willing to fight for what she believed in, but I never saw what a passionate, tireless fighter this woman is.  She has taken the hand she’s been dealt and made her own adjustments.  There are moments of paralyzing pain, which she will handle with taking a deep breath in, pausing and continuing her sentence less than a full second later.

I knew that she loved her family, but no one knew the depths.

I knew that she was committed to her faith, but never expected to see this level of resolution when push came to shove.

I knew that she was positive, but never knew human beings were capable of being this positive.

I knew that she was a teacher at heart, but I thought that she was done teaching me life lessons on a daily basis.

I’ve learned more from her during this process than I ever would have imagined.  Mom would call that a silver lining, while the rest of the world would call it unfortunate to have to come in these circumstances.  In the spirit of my mother, I’m determined to take as many lessons from her while I can, because from what I’ve seen the last five days, I know she has plenty left to teach me.

Dad’s comment about mom is simple, yet deeply profound.   His words remind Jimmy V quote:

“Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities, but it cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul, and those three things are going to carry on forever.”

Mom’s heart, mind and soul will carry on forever in the memories we’ll all cherish and share, and more directly, inside all of us that she has ever touched.

9 Responses to “It doesn’t change who we are on “It doesn’t change who we are”

  • I am humbled by your mother’s grace and am soooo proud to call her my aunt and Godmother!!!

  • Todd, I am truly in awe of the words you so eloquently wrote in this latest blog entry. Your mom from the very first day of this horrible journey has always thought of everyone else first. Like you said, asking about each and every member of someone elses family.Trying to keep some sense of normal in her life as she struggles with intense pain. We have had many a conversations about you and Scott, and the men you have grown to be. She is very proud of you both, in case you didn’t know that already. I am honored to call her my friend.

  • Thank you so much Todd for keeping those of us that cannot be there for support up to date with your Mom’s progress. You and your family have been so amazing throughout this ordeal and I commend each of you! I shared with your Mom a few weeks back that I have been made very aware since learning of her illness of how important it is to live for what is important and not get distracted by the “things” that all too often get placed before the things that truly matter in this life.

    Even though I haven’t seen your Mom for many years, I can see in her attitude and resolve the person that I once knew in her parents and her Sisters. She is a real role model to so many people as she battles, and her strength is no less than a miracle.

    You are all in my thought and prayers as you face each day.

    “fight like hell”

  • I sit reading this with tears streaming down my face. I have been trying to be the strong one for her. Todd you take after your Mother with your eloquent wording. Every thing you have written is so true about her. I promise you, I will do everything I can for her and your family.

  • Hi Todd…You’ve really captured everything about your mother that makes her truly remarkable in your latest blog. I got to visit your mom while your parents were here in Maine and like always your mom asked how things were going for me and what my boys were doing. I spoke to an acquaintance of your mom last night who said, “I’ve known a lot of people that have had cancer but this is the first time I’ve questioned the man upstairs because she is truly an angel on earth.” I couldn’t say it better myself…

  • Todd, You have summed up your Mom’s spirit so beautifully….I would like to add something but….. you already expressed what so many feel. Thank you so much for sharing your heart’s message. I am continuing to send my thoughts and prayers. xxxx

  • Todd, Your mother has a beautiful soul. Through her suffering, she is an inspiration to so many people and she is definitely teaching all of us how to be the best of God’s creation…a devoted and loving wife, mother, an awesome teacher, and true friend . I am keeping Nan and all of your family in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Todd, Just wanted to check in on you and let you know how much we love you. I have never been more proud of the man you have grown up to be. Your Mom is someone that most of us will never begin to be able to be. She gives all of herself and does it with so much class. I am in awe of this little lady. I am also honored to call her my sister-inlaw and wish I had a magic wand for all of you. Thank you for sharing so much of the hard real truth and again I am beyound words proud of all of you. Hang in there, we are totally wrapped up in your hurt. love Aunt Bev

  • Sometimes there are no words but sometimes there are and you have used them beautifully.