It only seems right that the first spotlight I do is on my fantastic mom... She is the most wonderful thing that's ever been on this earth. I know that's only my oppinion & I'm very biased, but for me it's 100% the truth! I don't even know how or where to start telling her story... She was a down to earth girl, but I never knew all that much about her teenage years. She didn't keep a journal so all I learned was from stories that she told from time to time. I know she had two real steady boyfriends in high school (no, not at the same time) cause she always warned me not to do the same... of course I didn't listen, as teenagers don't. She was on the Pep-squad and won a competition. Their event started with the members scattered throughout the bleachers of people... clapping to begin their cheer as they stood up and headed down the isles to the floor. She was the senior class vice president and on the debate team (which the debate coach later ended up being my junior high principal). My mom and dad were set up on a blind date... their friends lied to my dad about her age (mom knew this) since my dad didn't want to date anyone younger than 19 (let me know if I get any of this wrong dad), my dad would've been 21, I think. It was September and my mom would be turning 19 the next month, so it seemed justified. Well, after hitting it off on their date to the fair, my dad was excited to celebrate my mom's "20th" birthday with her... of course she was really just turning 19 that day & so the truth came out! All worked out fine since they got married two years later, then came me three years after that. The picture is one of my favorites... Mom pregnant with me. She wasn't so fond of having her picture taken while pregnant and that's her "Come on" (like, let's get this over with) face. Now that I'm a mom I appreciate these pictures because I understand more how she was feeling! After I arrived she continued to work at First Security Bank as an assitant manager. In 1990 my sweet little brother, Nathan, arrived. Less than two years later came Aaron, little brother #2! In 1996 she was let go from the bank (since they were downsizing, most likely in preparation for the merge with Wells Fargo that would occur down the road). This was an okay thing since I was starting junior high & was definitely going to need my mom readily available as I went through that most awkward phase! It was the best thing ever to arrive home from school and head straight down to our computer room where Mom would be working on the computer doing data-entry (an okay job to do from home) & then I'd talk all about my day... the drama of girls, the boys, the homework, the demanding teachers, and so on. These are the days I think Mom and I bonded the most and became best friends. Of course, while a teenager it wouldn't ever be cool to admit that my mom was my best friend I am proud to say that she is definitely the bestest friend I have ever ever had! She was always there for me, and to go off on that tangent would make this entry super duper long! I am especially grateful for the beautiful dresses that she made for me for high school dances (since I'm 5ft and was 85lbs, nothing fit me & definitely nothing modest), for sticking by me through boyfriend drama & always letting me vent while kindly offering advice instead of a scolding! Way back when I was still a young girl my mom brought home a Suzy Boggus CD. We sat on the floor by the sterio and listened to her song "Letting Go" (a song by a mom having to let her daughter go off into the real world, like college, now that she's 18 and how hard it is) and cried. This became our song & it was DEFINITELY a super hard thing for her to leave me in Cedar City, Utah were I attended Southern Utah University. Her and I talked on the phone almost everyday... it was just as always, recounting my day and the drama. It was a year after I met Todd that we decided to get hitched. When I asked him when he wanted to get married he said "as soon as possible," so my roommates and I headed out to go dress shoping and start looking for the earliest dates available at reception houses. Our engagement was only a month and a half, so everything happened real quick. Some days I regret this cause I don't think Mom and I really got to enjoy the bonding of the planning cause I think we would've really enjoyed it. But I did pack up my stuff to spend that last month living with the family, so that made it all the better. Todd and mine's wedding was fabulous! I'll never forget my mom's face as I walked down the isle, so proud and happy for me... she had down very well raising me and there was her baby girl all dressed like a princess!
Here's the turn in the story... the month after the wedding, while Todd and I were settling into married life, my mom was learning life-altering news. She had found a lump in her breast on her own one morning (yes my mom did annual mamograms and doctor visits but neither of them found this devestating lump... always do self examines women!) She gave me a call so I'd have the heads up & I didn't really know all that much about it at the time & thought there were so many women that were survivors, no big deal... ignorance is not bliss. Turns out the lump was cancer and a date was set to remove it the first part of August 2003. I headed up that week so Mom and I could hang out and have some fun before the surgery and then I'd hang out a bit afterwards so I could help with the recovery (Todd had to stay south to work). All went well, the lump was larger than they'd thought, but were able to get a good margine around it. (no they did not remove the breast... good or bad? We'll never know.) The tests showed that the cancer wasn't in her lymph nodes but was in her blood, so she would start chemo and then do radiation treatments. It was not a good experience at all... talk about feeling sick. And of course she didn't want me to worry since I was back in Cedar City doing school and now pregnant (due July 2004), so I don't think she was always so honest when I asked how she was. But she endured with so little complaining... what a woman! By January (maybe Febuary) 2004 she was done with chemo and radiation. Then she noticed this odd lump growing on her left shoulder blade. She questioned her oncologist about it, but he dismissed it saying that breast cancer doesn't metastize that way. At her follow up with her surgen he suggested that it may not be cancerous but to remove it to make sure... and no one wants a lump on their back like that anyways. By the time the next surgery arrived she had five other lumps throughout her skull and another on the other shoulder, as well as extreme tightness in the abdomin... this was no good. Turns out the lump was cancer, so were the others. Todd and I packed up our stuff at this time and moved in with my parents so we could help with everything & so I could be close to Mom just in case worse came to worse. So she began the chemo treatments again, and real tuff stuff this time. But that sneaky cancer wasn't going to give in. While the chemo was shrinking the lumps throughout her body the cancer had snuck into her spinal column. By this time I had had my sweet daughter, Liv, so when my mom said that she was having extreme headaches that felt like contractions I totally understood and sympasized with her pain. The scans showed that there was the cancer spread throughout the spine and the tissue around the brain. This became the greatest concern, so chemo was stopped and radiation began on those areas to stop it's spread into the brain. Unfortunately, this super aggressive cancer took off right away totally devouring the abdomin organs. It was a Thursday in October that we received word that the cancer had taken over and there was nothing left to do for her. Her friends swarmed to her hospital room as soon as they heard to say their goodbyes & she worried if she had "made a mountain out of a mole hill" unfortunately this was not so. It was a monument of the woman she was by all the people that arrived that day. The following Tuesday, October 26, 2004, she passed away after we had gotten her in the comforts of her own home. Her funeral was an honorable tribute to the magnificent woman she was.
I am so grateful to this wonderful woman for the talents she passed on to me. She was full of creativity and geniune unconditional love. She had a lot of enthusiasim for us kids and loved helping us learn and do school projects. My heart aches that my brothers (who were in junior high at the time of her passing... ninth and seventh grade) don't have her there to do so many of the things she did for me & I only hope that I'll be an addequate enough substitute. It was a tiny miracle that Liv arrived when she did so that my mother could enjoy her grandbaby even if just for the four months that she did. And it is such a wonder that Liv looks almost identical to my mom's baby pictures... what a treasure! I am so grateful for the knowledge I have of eternal families and that I will be with my mother again... "No righteous person is taken before their time" (I'll have to look up that scripture to get the exact wording later, but it's always forward in my thoughts of Mom). In memory of Suzanne Montgomery who fought the great fight, 1960-2004.